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Serialised under syndication as "It Happened Twice" in, e.g.

The Daily Mercury, Mackay, Qld., Australia, 1 Oct-12 Dec 1942
(this version)

The Golburne Evening Post, NSW, Australia, 13 Nov 1942, ff

First book edition:
T.A. & E. Pemberton, Manchester, England, 1948
as "Peggy's Guilt"

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2021
Version Date: 2021-11-18

Produced by Keith Emmett and Roy Glashan

All content added by RGL is proprietary and protected by copyright.

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Poison—is it a woman's weapon? Does the theory hold good in murder cases? It is a favourite notion of some criminologists that if a criminal "gets away" with a crime, he can be relied upon to commit another crime in much the same manner.

This is a theory which does not commend itself to most writers of detective stories. Where the infallible detective appears, be he inspector or amateur, he has to succeed every time. No death-dealer, however cunning, must escape him....

But in this extraordinary, interesting story, "It Happened Twice," Mr. T.C. Bridges takes up this theory boldly. He can do it because he has no invincible sleuth who must succeed every time.

"It Happened Twice" is particularly refreshing on that account. The people who are on the side of law and order do not pretend to any special detective skill: they are, like most of us, possessed of average comon-sense and instinctive recognition of evil when they see it.

The evil in this story is linked up with poison, and poison is, traditionally, a woman's weapon. But it might be misleading to pay too much heed to tradition when you read "It Happened Twice."

The Goldburne Evening Post, 12 November 1942.


Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX
Chapter XXI
Chapter XXII
Chapter XXIII
Chapter XXIV
Chapter XXV
Chapter XXVI
Chapter XXVII
Chapter XXVIII
Chapter XXIX
Chapter XXX
Chapter XXXI
Chapter XXXII
Chapter XXXIII
Chapter XXXIV
Chapter XXXV
Chapter XXXVI
Chapter XXXVII
Chapter XXIX

Gambler's Audit.

A PICTURE of the large, handsome living room in Edgar Trelawney's flat in St. James-street might well have been given the title of "The Gambler's Dream." Cards were scattered on the floor around the card table on which were strewn large piles of blue, red, and white poker chips. The sideboard was covered with bottles and decanters Empty glasses were everywhere, and the air was still a fog of tobacco smoke.

Two o'clock in the morning. The players had gone, and only two people remained in the room. The tall, hard-faced man who called himself Philip Chesham stood looking at a watercolor hanging above the fireplace. It represented a large, old fashioned, comfortable-looking red-brick house which stood on a broad terrace on a hillside. Flower borders blazing with bloom lay under the creeper-clad walls and fine timber flanked it on either side.

"Your place, Trelawney?" said Chesham, turning to the other man.

Edgar Trelawney, shirt front crumpled, lay sprawled in a big chair. He had his hands in his pockets and a cigarette between his lips. His features were well cut. He had curly brown hair, and Nature had meant him to be good looking but, though he was only twenty-seven his face had coarsened.

"It's my mother's," he answered in a thick, sulky voice.

"Yours some time?" went on Chesham.

"I suppose so."

Chesham looked at the picture again. "Cost something to keep up that place," he suggested.

"My mother has plenty of money," Edgar told him curtly.

Chesham came towards Edgar and stood over him. His tall, gaunt figure towered above the smaller man, and the expression on his long narrow face was not a pleasant one.

"Talking of money, Trelawney you owe me something over eight hundred." He took a slim memorandum book from the inner pocket of his dress jacket and consulted it. "Eight hundred and seventeen pounds to be exact. I want it."

"I'll write you a cheque." Chesham's lip curled.

"And have it returned marked R.D. No thanks. I've had some. I want cash, my bonny boy.

"You'll have to wait till to-morrow. I'll go and see my banker."

"You mean your money-lender," said Chesham with a sneer. Edgar flushed.

"Never mind what I mean. I'll get the money."

"You won't."

"What do you mean?"

"Just what I say. That gentleman won't lend you another penny. What's more he wants his interest for the last quarter and that's nearly five hundred." The color faded from Edgar's cheeks.

"How do you know?" he demanded.

Chesham flicked the ash from his cigarette on to the carpet.

"Never mind how," he answered. "When you see him you'll find I do know. But I mean to have my money Trelawney, and soon."

"You can't get blood out of a stone," Trelawney answered. Chesham's hard yellowish eyes fixed on the younger man's face.

"You're a stone that will bleed if it's squeezed hard enough," he said "And don't forget that I can do the squeezing. Suppose I send the IOUs to your mother?"

"She wouldn't know what they were."

"But old Meakin would," said Chesham significantly.

"What do you know about Meakin?"

"That he's your family solicitor, with all the jolly old Victorian ideas and that. If he knew how badly you were dipped, he'd soon explain things to your mother. And then it'll be goodbye to your fat allowance."

Edgar's reply was to spring from his chair, and in fling himself upon Chesham.

A puppy might as well have sprung at a tiger. Chesham caught him round the body lifted him and threw him back on his chair with a force that knocked the breath out of him.

"Don't try that again," he advised, "or I might hurt you." He did not raise his voice in the least yet the tone made Edgar wince. Chesham went on. "To return to the point—how are you going to raise the money?" Edgar looked desperate.

"I shall have to ask my mother. I must go down and see her."

"l think I'll come with you," Chesham said.

Edgar did not reply.

Chesham read his thoughts.

"Don't worry," he advised. "I shan't give you away. We'll take the midday train to-morrow or rather to-day." He nodded and went out.

Edgar sat silent in his chair. His upper lip was quivering with a sort of nervous spasm. He was furiously angry, but even more frightened. Why had Chesham decided to come down to Coombe Royal?

Girl On The Moor.

JAN SETTERS glanced up from the turf tie where he and old Tom Weller were loading peat and looked at the tall figure that came striding down the side of Bull Tor.

"He surely du walk!" he remarked.

"He's got the legs to du it," agreed Tom. Jan nodded.

"They du say he's a good doctor." This time it was Tom who nodded.

"Baint so bad, seeing he's a furriner. Reckon he's been up to Bellford to see Jane French's new un."

Unconscious of the comments of the two moormen, Dr. John Arkwright swung on among the boulders and heather that covered the great slope, where bees buzzed among the late heather blooms. It was but three months since he had bought the practice at Nethercombe from old Dr. Powell and he was only beginning to find his way over the vast stretches of the moor. He had a car but he liked to do at least half his work afoot.

He came to a coppice of wind-twisted beeches, passed through them and pulled up with a jerk.

Below was a hollow, cup-shaped, about 200 yards across. A pool of clear brown water filled the lower part of the depression and in the centre of this pool was a mound-shaped island crowned by a circle of monstrous granite dolmens.

Originally there had been nine of these, but two had toppled over and lay on their sides. The remaining seven, grey with age-old lichen, stood up sturdily. They surrounded a great flat altar-stone which lay on the north side of the circle.

That was not all that Arkwright saw. Seated on the grass on the island, with her back against one of the pillars, was a girl who wore a plain, pale-blue linen frock, no hat, and she had a book on her lap but she was not reading. Her eyes were closed and she seemed to be asleep.

"Pity she had to take on the job of companion to that fat old woman," Arkwright said half aloud. "A girl like that ought to have a profession.

John Arkwright was a man of strong character, and like most of his kind, had strong prejudices. One was that companions were parasites, women who wished to live like ladles at the expense of the idle rich. He classed them with dance hostesses and lounge lizards. The fact that this girl, Peggy Garland, who acted as companion to Mrs. Trelawney, of Coombe Royal, was taking her ease at half-past three in the afternoon strengthened his prejudices. Yet he had to admit that she made a very pretty picture.

Peggy was not asleep. She was watching the long-legged doctor's approach from under half-closed eyelids. As he came nearer, she sat up and greeted him.

"On your way to Coombe Royal?"

"You chose a queer place for your siesta," remarked Arkwright.

"Why queer?" Peggy retorted. "It's my favourite spot." Arkwright frowned again.

"I'd say it was haunted. I've never seen it before, but I believe it's called 'The Druid's Den,' and we all know what cherry souls the Druids were, carving up a wretched prisoner laid out on altar stones."

"You have a lively imagination, Dr. Arkwright," Peggy Garland answered with a touch of sarcasm, "but in this case it's working all wrong. Those stones were old before Druids existed."

Arkwright's eyes widened. Though he had never made a special study of archeology, he was surprised that she knew more about it than he.

"You have me beaten, Miss Garland," he admitted. "I thought the Druids were the Stone merchants. Didn't they build Stonehenge?"

"They may have. We don't know. But this is a Serpent Mound. It's like a Scottish crannog—surrounded by water—and the stones have never been touched by a tool." She stopped and laughed. "But I didn't mean to give you a lecture on archeology."

"I'm tremendously interested," Arkwright told her and Peggy was secretly pleased. "As I told you, I've never seen this place until to-day. I'd like to have a closer look. He went to the edge of the pool. "How do you get across?" he asked. "Wade?"

"I wouldn't if I were you."

"Why not?"

"Try it with your stick," Peggy suggested. Arkwright poked his stick down through the clear water into the sand. It sank so easily he nearly lost his balance and toppled after it. He straightened his long body and looked at Peggy.

"Quicksand!" he said sharply.

"Quicksand it is—and no one knows how deep."

"But this is a scandal!" said Arkwright, indignantly. "There's no notice to warn people of the danger."

"There's no need for a notice," Peggy told him. "All the people about here know the place and, in my case the pool is on Mrs. Trelawney's land." Arkwright stood gazing at the great monolith opposite.

"Then is there no way of getting across," he asked.

"There is a causeway. But it's only about a foot wide, and if you don't know it, you haven't a chance. I'll guide you if you like."Arkwright glanced at his wrist-watch.

"I would like, and we shall just have time, for Mrs. Trelawney is not expecting me till four.

"Then you'd better take off your shoes and socks," Peggy said, "and I'll come across and show you the way." As she spoke, she picked up her shoes, stepped down off the bank, and waded slowly but steadily across the moat.

"Miss Peggy!—Miss Peggy!" came a shrill voice, and, looking round, Peggy saw a small boy running down the slope.

"It's Tommy Southcote, the lodge-keeper's son," she explained to Arkwright. "What is it, Tommy? she asked as the boy came racing up.

"Mr. Edgar's coming Miss," Tommy announced breathlessly, "and he's bringing another gentleman with him. And Rose sent me to find you. She says madam's in a dreadful fuss."

"She would be!" said Peggy, in a tone of quite surprising bitterness. She turned to Arkwright. "Edgar is Mrs. Trelawney's son. He lives in London, and hardly ever comes down. And here he is turning up at an hour's notice with another man. Of course Mrs. Trelawney is upset." Arkwright nodded sympathetically.

The boy gone, with a message that Miss Garland was returning, Arkwright looked at Peggy. Her lips were tightly compressed, and there was an angry color in her cheeks.

"Edgar doesn't seem to be exactly popular," he ventured.

"Not with me!—I can't stand him!" said Peggy, sharply.

Arkwright kept a wise silence as they walked together down the path. He was still rather ignorant of local affairs. All he knew of Coombe Royal was that its owner, Mrs. Trelawney was a very rich woman, a widow with one son, that she was fussy about her health, and that Peggy Garland had been her paid companion for nearly three years.

He glanced at Peggy and frowned once more. In spite of prejudices he couldn't help admiring her. Peggy glanced up at him.

"What's the matter, doctor? What are you scowling about?"

"This fellow, Edgar," said Arkwright. "He doesn't bother you, I hope?"

"Bother me!" she repeated. Then she laughed. "Make love to me, do you mean?"

"Yes I suppose that is what I did mean." Peggy laughed again, but this time scornfully.

"He tried that the first time we met. He never tried it again." She paused then went on. "You needn't worry on my account. I'm not in the least afraid of him, but I admit I dislike him most heartily."

"What does he come down for?" Arkwright asked. "Does he shoot or fish?"

"He does neither. What he comes for is money. His mother makes him a generous allowance, but he is always in debt—always worrying her for more."

"A gambler?"

"Not only a gambler, but I fancy what my father used to call a mug. Sometimes I'm almost sorry for him. His father died when he was five, and his mother has spoiled him ever since."

They came to a gate leading into the back drive. Peggy paused with her hand on the latch.

"I shall take you straight up to Mrs, Trelawney and I want you to tell her that she had better stay in bed. When you come down I'll give you tea."

"I'm quite willing to be guided by you, Miss Garland," said Arkwright, "but what is the idea of keeping her in bed? She is not any worse, is she?"

"The idea," Peggy answered, "is that, so long as she is in bed, I can have an eye on her and keep Edgar away." Arkwright nodded.

"I see. Well, it won't do any harm to keep her in bed. Her heart is none too good."

Rose met them at the door. Rose Weller, a Devonshire girl, daughter of old Tom Weller, had come to Coombe Royal as second housemaid, but was so quick and neat, so handy with her needle that she had slipped into the position of Mrs. Trelawney's personal maid.

"I'm glad you've come, Miss Peggy," said Rose quickly. "The mistress has been so fussed. I thought she was going to have one of her attacks."

"It will be all right, Rose," said Peggy kindly. "I'm taking the doctor up at once. Will you tell Martin to give us tea in half an hour, in the library."

Peggy was at the tea table when Arkwright came down.

"You ware right," he said, "she will be better in bed for the present. I've given her a sedative and she will be asleep in half an hour. Tell Master Edgar that he is not to see her until the morning."

"I'll tell him," said Peggy as she handed Arkwright a cup of tea. They sat down and chatted for a while, then Arkwright said good-bye and strode off down the drive. There was a tender little smile on Peggy's face as she watched him.

A Rake Comes Home.

EDGAR TRELAWNEY shepherded his friend into the hall where Peggy waited.

"Miss Garland, this is Mr. Chesham," he said.

Chesham offered his hand, and Peggy had to take it, though the touch of it made her skin crawl.

"It is very good of you to receive me at such short notice," Chesham said politely, but Peggy could not force a courteous reply.

"We have plenty of room," she answered coldly. "There are cocktails on the side table and dinner will be at half-past seven."

"How is my mother?" Edgar asked.

"Not well," Peggy told him. "The doctor has given her an opiate, and she is, I hope, asleep. Will you excuse me. I have to dress for dinner."

"Bossy young woman, Edgar," Chesham remarked, when she had gone.

"She's worse," said Edgar angrily. "I'll lay she put that long fool, Arkwright up to giving my mother a sleeping draught. I've tried to get rid of her but my mother won't hear of it." Chesham helped himself to a cocktail, and laughed.

"The girl doesn't like you either," he said and raised his glass. "Here's to it," he added significantly. Edgar looked miserably uncomfortable.

"We shall have to be careful," he said, and Chesham winked.

Dinner was excellent so far as food and drink went. From any other point of view it was a flat failure. Of the three, Chesham was the only one who seemed at ease. When Martin put the port on the table Peggy excused herself and went upstairs.

Mrs. Trelawney was asleep, and there was nothing special to do. The night was lovely, soft and warm, with a moon, three days from the full, already high in the sky, so Peggy took a light wrap, went down the back stairs and through the French window of the sun room into the garden. A thicket of huge, old rhododendrons flanked the flower garden on this side, and through this thicket a narrow, moss-grown path led to a patch of sloping lawn over-hung by an immense old cedar of Lebanon, with low-sweeping, fragrant branches.

A broad wooden seat had been built around the trunk of the big tree, and here Peggy settled. Opening her bag she took out her cigarette case and was on the point of lighting a cigarette when she heard steps on the gravel walk below.

Edgar and Chesham were pacing slowly not more than twenty yards away, and presently she heard Chesham's voice.

"Where does her maid sleep?" was his peculiar question. Peggy dropped her cigarette unlighted.

"Right at the end of the passage," Edgar answered. "There's no need to worry about her. It's Peggy Garland we have to think about. Her room is opposite to my mother's and, if I don't like her, I have to admit she has her wits about her."

"Does she take anything before she goes to bed. Milk or tea?" Chesham asked.

The two had turned and their voices were dying away. Peggy was just able to hear Edgar's reply.

"Yes, she has a glass of milk."

Peggy leaned forward, straining her ears. Chesham was talking but Peggy could not hear a word of what he said. She got up with the idea of following the two men but realised they were bound to see her. She dropped back on the seat and sat still, trying to think.

She heard the steps die away down the path, then presently the clang of the front door as it closed behind them. And still she did not move.

Her head was clearing now and she began to realise the full significance of what she had overheard. These men were planning robbery. Yet what was there to steal? So far as she knew Mrs. Trelawney had no large amount of money in the house. Peggy herself handled all the household accounts. There was rarely more than twenty pounds in cash in the whole place.

There was jewelry in the little safe in Mrs. Trelawney's room—some rings, a sapphire necklace and some ornaments, yet so far as Peggy knew, these were not worth more than a few hundred pounds. "Chicken feed," Chesham would call them. It seemed impossible that he would take the risk of burglary for so small a reward, and even more impossible that Edgar would join in a plot for robbing his own mother.

What did it all mean? What were they going to do? She got up quickly, then once more sank back. Now she was shaking with sheer horror at the thought which flashed through her mind.

Was it murder they meant? If Mrs. Trelawney died, Edgar was her sole heir.

Forestalling A Crime.

PEGGY GARLAND was an extremely level-headed and competent young woman who had run a big establishment practically single-handed for three years. Not the sort to let the unexpected disturb her. In a couple of minutes she was carefully considering how to deal with the situation.

Her first impulse was to ring up Nethercombe Police Station and ask Sergeant Caunter to come out. But that would mean a horrid scandal which must at all costs be avoided, She dismissed it.

Next came the idea of telling Martin, the butler, what she had overheard but that would be as bad. The more Peggy thought the more certain she became that she would have to handle the business single-handed.

The first thing was to find out, if possible, what villainy the two men were up to.

She left the seat under the cedar tree and went quietly back to the house by the shrubbery path. At this hour the staff were in the servant's hall, finishing their supper. The house was quiet. Peggy went up the back stairs and, pausing at the door of Mrs. Trelawney's room, she could hear the heavy breathing of the sleeping woman. Satisfied that she was safe for the time being, she crossed in her own room and sat down leaving the door just ajar.

Ten minutes passed and at last Peggy heard steps in the hall below. It was the custom in the house for Martin to put on a table in the hall at 10 o'clock the glass of milk which she took at bed-time. To-night he would also put out whisky and soda for the men. After that he would lock up and go to bed.

Martin moved about, closing windows and locking doors, and presently departed into the back regions, but Peggy waited patiently until the door of the smoking room opened and the steps of Edgar and Chesham sounded on the polished oak floor of the hall. The two men crossed the hall and went into the billiards room.

The moment she heard the billiards room door close. Peggy got up and went down the front stairs. Looking through the glass panel of the door, she saw the two men playing snooker. She noticed also that one of the two windows was open!

At once she turned, flitted softly down the passage to the sun room and so into the garden. A minute later she was crouching under the sill of the window.

What's the matter with you, Trelawney?" she heard Chesham say. "You're as jumpy as a cat on hot bricks."

"I can't play," was Edgar's reply, "My hand shakes. Isn't it time yet, Chesham?"

"Time! We've got the whole night before us. Anyhow, we must wait till the girl's asleep." Peggy heard him go to the door and open it. "She hasn't even taken her milk yet. Have another spot, Trelawney, then we'll finish the game. The rubies won't run away."

In a flash the whole plot came to Peggy's mind. The Sarapore rubies which had come to Mrs. Trelawney from her husband's grandfather, an officer in the Indian Army. Mrs. Trelawney disliked the heavy stones and never wore them, and Peggy herself had almost forgotten their existence. Yet they were there, at the back of the safe in Mrs. Trelawney's room, in that old-fashioned brown leather case with the brass hasps, and they were worth—Peggy didn't know how much, but certainty a very great deal of money.

Now the whole plot was clear, and Peggy knew why Edgar had brought this crook to Coombe Royal. The odds were that the rubies would not be missed for months—perhaps years.

At once Peggy knew exactly what she must do. She went straight upstairs and stood outside Mrs. Trelawney's room. She glanced up and down the corridor, and slipping into the room, she closed the door softly behind her.

A shaded night-light burned on a bedside table, and helped Peggy to find the key in a small drawer in the upper part of the heavy Victorian dressing-table. As for the safe, it was nothing but an iron box set in the wall close to the fire-place and hidden by a picture.

Peggy soon had the brown leather case. She locked the safe, replaced the picture and the key. Then, opening the door very quietly she glanced out. The corridor was empty end silent. Three steps brought her to her own room, and, once inside, she relaxed.

But not for long. What was she to do with the case? Chesham, failing to find it in the safe would, of course, tell Edgar, and the only person Edgar could possibly suspect of removing the case would be Peggy. She decided that the case had to be hidden somewhere outside the house—and this must be done before Chesham started his burgling.

At once Peggy thought of the Druids' Den. It was less than half a mile away. She could get there and back in half-an-hour. It was perfect for her purpose, and instantly she made up her mind that this was where should would hide the case.

Once more she went down the front stairs and made straight for the billiards room. She waited for the stroke, then opened the door and went in.

"I am going up now, Mr. Trelawney," she said. "Drinks are in the hall. If you go out again, will you see that the front door is locked?"

"I'll see to it, Miss Garland," replied Edgar, civilly. "How is my mother?"

"Asleep," Peggy told him, and turned to go.

"Good-night!" said Edgar.

"Good-night, Mr. Trelawney!" Peggy answered. She closed the door behind her, picked up her glass of milk, and walked slowly up the broad flight.

Her first impulse was to pour away the milk, but on second thoughts she decided to keep it. Her little medicine cupboard would be the best place. Then she changed, putting on a dark coat and skirt and rubber-soled shoes. The case with the rubies she packed inside a handbag, then switched off her light and went out into the corridor. She heard a clink of glasses below. Edgar and Chesham were having their nightcap.

It was time to be away.

Moorland Nocturne.

AS Peggy closed behind her the wicket gate leading to the wood, a thin scream brought her heart to her throat. She knew it for the death cry of a rabbit seized by a stoat, yet now she was shaking so that she could hardly stand. With a great effort she mastered her terror and went ahead until she reached the upper edge of the wood.

In the Hollow all was silence. The great monoliths rose grey and ghostly in the moonlight, not a ripple disturbed the silvered surface of the treacherous pool.

Once more Peggy looked back. The feeling that she was being followed was stronger than ever, yet her eyes assured her that she was perfectly safe. She fixed her gaze on a small stone set into the opposite bank, which gave her the guiding marks of the hidden causeway, then, without waiting to take off her shoes, she waded across.

She took the case from her bag, stuffed it into a little hollow under the great Altar Stone and returned across the pool as quickly as she had come.

She came to the wicket gate at the bottom of the wood, and stopped short. The gate was partly open, yet she was certain that she had closed and latched it. Someone had passed this way within the last half-hour. The question was who.

Then, as he stood, wondering what best to do, out of the distance came a shrill and dreadful cry—"Help!—help!"

In a flash Peggy knew exactly what had happened. Chesham had followed her. Hidden in the beeches, he had watched her cross the moat. He had waited until she had hidden the rubies, then, chuckling, no doubt, at the success of his shadowing, had hurried to the hiding-place.

And he had walked straight into the death-trap.

Peggy turned and ran, but the distance she had to cover was nearly half a mile.

Again came the shriek for help, echoing far through the quiet night; then a third time. After that silence.

The clouds had passed, the moon was shining in a clear sky as Peggy reached the beech trees. The Hollow was quiet as when she had left it, less than fifteen minutes earlier. Peggy gazed at the pool. Not a ripple betrayed the tragedy. It was hard to believe that within the last few minutes a man had gone to his death in its treacherous depths.

She went nearer and looked down into the pool. Then, to the right of the hidden causeway, she saw a small patch of discolored water—but nothing else. She shuddered, yet did not move. There was nothing that she or anyone else could do to save him. Chesham was not only dead but buried.

The shock, the violent exertion of running, had left her giddy and confused. She could not even think. And while she stood, trying to get things in some sort of perspective, she heard a sound behind her, and turned to see Edgar plunging down the slope. The black tie of his dinner-dress was under one ear, and one side of his collar had come away from its stud. His usually sleek hair was standing up in tufts. Great drops of sweat glistened on his forehead and streamed down his cheeks, and he was blowing like an over-driven horse.

"Chesham," he gasped, and his voice was a harsh croak. "That scream! Where is he?" Peggy pointed to the pool. For the moment she felt unable to speak.

"D-drowned!" stammered Edgar. Peggy found her voice.

"Buried in that quicksand!" she told him. Edgar started forward.

"It's too late," Peggy said. "You can't do anything—no one can." Edgar shivered.

"But we must do something!" he urged. Peggy's head was clearing. She was getting a hold on herself and on the situation.

"You could ring up the police," she suggested. Edgar recoiled. An expression of absolute horror came upon his face.

"The police!" he repeated. "That—that's the last thing to do." Peggy was as little anxious to call in the police as Edgar himself, but the man's abject selfishness angered her. After all it was Edgar, more than anyone else, who was responsible for Chesham's end.

"How can you help it?" she asked, coldly.

"But he's gone—vanished. They can't even recover his body," he protested.

"They could by draining the pool. He is bound to be missed. How are you going to account for his disappearance?"

"Why should he be missed?" Edgar said quickly. He, too, was getting a grip on himself. "He has no near relations. He's just a rolling stone. If we don't say anything no one else is likely to." He paused a moment, then went on. "Think of the questions they'd ask. How could we explain his coming up here at this time of night?"

"You might have thought of that before," Peggy suggested.

"What's the use of talking like that?" cried Edgar. "It's done and can't be helped." He calmed down and spoke in a quieter voice. "You'd be in trouble, too, Miss Garland. They'd want to know what you were doing with the rubies."

"And I should tell them—exactly," Peggy answered. "I was under the cedar when you and your friend were cooking up your plot for stealing the rubies. I heard every word."

"I knew you must have heard," Edgar said sullenly. "Chesham said so the moment we missed you."

"How did you come to miss me?" Peggy demanded.

"You switched the light out to your bedroom. When we saw that there was no light coming from your window I went up and knocked at your door. There was no answer, so I went in and found you gone. Then Chesham knew what had happened, and you hadn't reached the wicket gate before he was after you."

"Yes," she agreed calmly, "it was a mistake. But it makes no difference now. Chesham is dead. What are you going to do about it?"

"Keep it quiet," Edgar said quickly.

"I don't see how you can. The whole household will know in the morning that your friend has disappeared. Then the police are bound to be called in." Edgar raised a hand.

"We can tell them he had a telephone call. A relative ill or something like that. He had to go off at once, so I drove him to the station. There's a train from Taverton just before midnight."

Peggy listened but was not impressed. Yet while he was speaking she had made up her mind.

"I'm going to help you," she said. "Not for your own sake," as he began to thank you, "but for your mother's. "Go back to the house and get out the small car. I will pack Mr. Chesham's suit case, but first I must get the rubies. Be as quick as you can. We shan't have more than time to catch the London train. It leaves at twenty past eleven." Edgar looked blank.

"But who—" he begun. Peggy cut him short. "Please do as I say."

A Rash Plan Ruined?

IN spite of Edgar's start Peggy reached the house almost as soon as he did. She found him getting out the car.

"Don't bring it round," she said, "and don't go into the house, yourself. I'll bring you a coat, hat and muffler." She hurried away, but was back in a very few minutes, wearing coat and hat, and carrying an overcoat, muffler, hat and suit case.

"This is Chesham's coat," said Edgar sharply.

"Surely it's plain enough. You have to represent Chesham."

"You mean I have to go back to town?"

"No. You get into the train at Taverton and get out at Okestock, the next station. I meet you there with the car and bring you back. Surely you can see it is the only way to a avoid suspicion." A look of relief crossed Edgar's face.

"I see," he said as he put on the overcoat. "Yes, of course it is the only way. Will you drive or shall I?"

"I'll drive," Peggy said briefly and got in.

The car was a small saloon which Peggy used often for shopping. She knew how to get the best out of it and covered eight very hilly miles in twenty minutes, reaching Taverton just five minutes before the train was due. She pulled up a little distance from the booking office and turned to Edgar.

"You must book to London," she said. "Pick an empty carriage. There'll be plenty at this time of night. When you get to Okestock go straight into the waiting room and stay there until the train has left. There is no other passenger train for at least two hours and the ticket collector will leave. Wait until all is quiet then go down into the subway and come out on the West side. You're not likely to meet anyone and I shall be waiting with the car a little way up the road beyond the station."

"You've certainly thought it all out," said Edgar with unwilling admiration. "But what will you do with the suitcase?"

"I shall sink it in a bog hole under Black Tor. I can do that on my way to Okestock."

"That ought to be all right," Edgar said. A whistle cut the silence. "I'll go on and get my ticket." he added. Peggy watched him into the station and waited until the train had left before driving on.

Her road took her over the bleak expanse of Blackmoor, and at this time of night it was as empty as any desert. She did not meet a single vehicle. Close under the foot of the huge tor were several bog holes, small, but deep. She stopped the car and first making sure that no one was in sight, opened the suit case, put in a couple of heavy stones, then walked across the heather and pitched the case into the nearest hole. It sank at once and only a few bubbles on the black slime showed where it had disappeared.

Peggy shivered. She loathed the thought of covering up a crime, and she surprised herself by the cunning with which she had plotted all this. But since she had made up her mind to help Edgar she meant to carry out the job properly.

On the drove to Okestock. The London train arrived and left and the station seemed deserted. She drove past, pulled up and waited. There was no sign of Edgar and, when a quarter of an hour had passed, she began to be anxious. Another ten minutes dragged by and Peggy was on the point of getting out and going back afoot to look for him when she heard steps. Here at last was Edgar.

"I had to wait," he told her. "There were two men working on the permanent way just opposite the waiting room. I thought they would never finish. I came the moment they left."

"And no one saw you?"

"Not a soul. I had a carriage to myself. We're all right now."

"We still have to get home," Peggy reminded him.

"Did you put back the rubies?" he asked.

"Yes," said Peggy curtly.

"And my mother was still asleep?"


Edgar was silent for a time while the car sped smoothly over the empty, moonlit road. Then he spoke again:

"It's a waste of good things. She never wears them and, if I had them, I could square up my debts and start afresh." Again Peggy glanced at him, but he was quite serious.

"You'd better ask her for them," she suggested drily. He shook his head.

"That wouldn't be any good. You see, they are heirlooms, and nothing would persuade her to part with anything that's been in the family a few generations. Foolishness, I call it. We only live once and had better have a good time while we can."

That was his creed. Peggy had known it all along, but the admission of it made her feel sick. She wondered if it was any use telling him so, but before she could make up her mind, the headlights of a car showed up round a bend not a hundred yards away.

At this moment Peggy was driving up hill towards the little village of Marranton. The road was a typical Devonshire lane with high banks and hedges on either side. The gradient was steep and Peggy had already changed down to second and was moving at barely twenty miles an hour. The other car was travelling at double that speed. far too fast for a road where there was barely room for two cars to pass.

Peggy pulled in as close as she could to the left side, so close that her bonnet scraped the thick bracken on the bank. It was not close enough to save her. With a clang like the stroke of a hammer on an anvil the other car's bumper struck her offside mudguard. The colliding car swerved, shot at an angle towards the other bank, hit it, reared up, turned right over and fell on its side with a loud crash. Peggy's car having came almost to a standstill before the collision, was shaken, but not upset.

"Infernal fools!" snarled Edgar as he pushed open the near side door and squeezed out between it and the bank. He scrambled round the bonnet and began to examine the mudguard. "Badly bent," Peggy heard him say, "but no great harm done. We can get home all right."

By this time Peggy, too, was out of the car. She was shaken, but unhurt. Paying no attention to Edgar, she hurried towards the other car. Edgar sprang after her and caught her by the arm.

"Come on! What are you waiting for?" Well as she knew him, Peggy could hardly believe her senses. "They don't know what they hit or who we are," Edgar went on quickly. "Let's get on before they see us." Peggy wrenched her arm free.

"You miserable coward!" was all she said, then, before Edgar had recovered, she had reached the other car and was turning the handle of the door.

First-Aid By Moonlight.

THE lights of the car had not gone out, and the door opened easily. Peggy leaned down and switched off the engine, which was still running. By the dashboard light she saw that there was only one person in the car—a woman. She lay in a heap behind the wheel. Her eyes were closed, and she was perfectly still.

Peggy turned and found Edgar beside her, heavy-eyed and sullen.

"Help me to get her out," Peggy ordered. "You needn't he afraid she'll recognise you," she added scornfully. "She's quite unconscious." Edgar looked into the car.

"What's the use of lifting her out?" he asked. "She's dead. Let's get out of this before anyone comes."

"She is not dead. She's breathing," Peggy retorted.

Between them they got the woman out, then Peggy lifted the cushion from the back scat and laid her on it.

Now that they had her in the moonlight, Peggy saw that the woman was young, dark, and remarkably good-looking, even in her present unconscious condition. She wore a coat and skirt of a rich red-brown tweed, which suited her dark beauty to perfection. Peggy examined her.

"No bones broken," she said. "Apparently she has only a bad bruise on her forehead."

"Then why not cover her up with a rug and leave her?" Edgar urged. "We're risking everything if she comes round before we go." Peggy turned on him.

"If you say another word about leaving her I shall drive straight to the nearest police station and tell the whole story.

He lapsed into sulky silence.

"There is a first-aid case in the car," Peggy said. "Bring it, please!" Edgar obeyed, but before he got back, the injured woman stirred, her eyes opened, and she gazed at Peggy, who was bending over her.

"My head hurts," she said. Her voice, though slightly hoarse, was amazingly deep and rich.

"That's not surprising," Peggy answered. "You have a bad bruise on your forehead. I think you hit the windscreen when your car upset."

"Car upset," the other repeated vaguely. But the vagueness did not last long, Almost at once her eyes cleared. "I remember," she said, quickly. "I hit another car and skidded."

"It was my car you hit," Peggy said.

"I am very sorry. It was my fault—I was driving too fast. I had not met another car the whole way, and I suppose I thought I wasn't going to. I do hope you were not hurt."

"I don't think that anything is damaged except a mudguard," Peggy told her. "But your car is a wreck, and we must take you to—wherever you are going."

"You are very kind. Luckily it is not far. I am staying at Reed Brook Farm. Do you know it?"

"I know where it is," said Peggy. "No, don't move yet. I am going to put something on that bruise."

Edgar had brought the case and Peggy put lotion and a bandage on the woman's head. She called Edgar to help her and they got the patient into the back of their car, and made her comfortable. Edgar, Peggy noticed with grim amusement, had pulled his muffler well over the lower parts of his face.

It was not easy to turn the car in this narrow lane but, once that was done, it took no more than five minutes to reach Reed Brook Farm. The house was dark and Peggy got out and was going to knock when the stranger stopped her.

"I have my latch key," she said, "and really I am quite able to look after myself. I am grateful to you for bringing me home and very sorry for the damage to your car."

"It is not serious," Peggy assured her. "Are you going to report the accident?"

"Not unless you wish me to do so." The woman hesitated then went on. "If you will give me your address I shall be pleased to send a cheque for the damage done to your car.

"There will be no need for that," said Peggy.

The other, who seemed to be almost herself again, gave her a queer, quick, searching look which made Peggy feel oddly uncomfortable.

"In that ease, I will only thank you again and say good-night," she said and taking a key from her bag put it into the lock. "Good-night," said Peggy, and got into the car. Edgar waited until they were on the road again then spoke for the first time since Peggy had threatened him.

"Something fishy about that woman," he remarked. "Did you notice she never gave us her name?"

"She was probably glad not to be asked. The accident was entirely her fault," Peggy answered.

"She didn't get our name either," said Edgar. "I hope she didn't spot the number of the car."

"What does it matter?" Peggy asked sharply. She was very tired and Edgar was getting badly on her nerves. "The London train has passed Exeter by this time," she added significantly.

"Y-yes. I suppose we're all right," Edgar answered. He yawned. "I shall be jolly glad to get to bed." Once more Peggy glanced at him. But his remark was quite genuine. He was thinking of his own comfort—nothing else.

They were home in another twenty minutes and Edgar went straight into the house, leaving Peggy to put up the car. She was glad to get to bed but, tired as she was, it was a long time before she could sleep. The odd thing was that it was not Chesham's dreadful end that troubled her thoughts. It was the face of the woman who had run them down. Even when she did get to sleep Peggy dreamed of that face—beautiful, mysterious, yet strangely sinister.

The Dark Woman Reappears.

"YOU'RE late, Peggy. And my tea is too strong. I'm always telling Rose about it."

Peggy was accustomed to a string of small complaints each morning from her employer, and they did not worry her.

"I have had a cup. I don't want any more," continued Mrs. Trelawney peevishly. She was sitting up in bed propped by pillows. Obviously, she had once been good looking, but now she was much too fat for health or good looks, and though not yet 60 she looked older. She still had a fine head of white hair and was proud of her hands which were plump but well shaped. She wore a quilted pink bed jacket over her nightdress and a lace cap on her head.

"Did Edgar arrive?" she questioned. "I wish he wouldn't bring friends without warning. Who is this Mr. Chesham?"

"You need not trouble about him, Mrs. Trelawney," Peggy answered, and was surprised to find how steady her voice was. "He had a telephone message late last night and left at once. Mr. Trelawney and I drove him to Taverton."

"Gone away," said Mrs. Trelawney. "I am not sorry. I'm not equal to entertaining visitors. And talking of visitors, remind me that I have to call on Mrs. Jardine. She has taken Snipe's Barrow and is moving in at once. I hope she will be a desirable tenant. Her references are good, so Mr. Meakin tells me. Put it down, Peggy. Peggy made a note on a tablet by the bedside and Mrs. Trelawney continued. "How long is Edgar going to stay?" She did not wait for a reply to her question. She rarely did. "I don't suppose he came to see me. It's money he is after. Always money. I can't think what he does with it. Is he up yet?"

"I think it's unlikely," said Peggy with a smile. "Now let me put you tidy. The doctor is coming at ten."

"Dr. Arkwright. Yes. I like him, Peggy. He gave me something that made me sleep well last night. A very competent young man. I think he understands me." She went on talking and continued to do so while Peggy sponged her face and hands and brushed her hair. Strictly speaking, this was Rose's job but Mrs. Trelawney preferred to have Peggy look after her.

A few minutes later Rose announced Dr. Arkwright and Peggy slipped out of the room.

It was a quarter of an hour before he came into the drawing-room where she was sitting.

"She's better," he said. "She can get up if she likes. I hear Chesham has gone."

"Yes, he left late last night," Peggy answered. She hated lying.

"You didn't let young Trelawney bother his mother?"

"He hasn't seen her yet," Peggy told him, "but he will want to do so some time to-day."

"Wait till she's up," Arkwright said. He gave Peggy a quick, sharp look. "You're not looking too fit," he remarked.

Peggy's eyes widened a trifle This was the first time that Arkwright had made any personal remark whatever.

"I'm all right," she answered. "A little short of sleep—that's all."

"You'd better go up to your Druids' Den and take a siesta after lunch," said Arkwright, and was surprised to see Peggy shiver. "You're not all right," he retorted. "You have a chill. I've a mind to send you to bed." Peggy recovered.

"Thank you, kind sir, but I'm afraid your prescription will have to stand over. I have all the monthly bills to tackle to-day, Mrs. Trelawney's letters to write, dinner to order, a new kitchen maid to interview, to say nothing of putting out the week's linen." It was Arkwright's turn to stare.

"I thought you were just Mrs. Trelawney's companion," he exclaimed.

"Just that," said Peggy. "But as she is an invalid I have to take her place as mistress of the house." Before Arkwright could say more the door opened and Edgar marched in. He was well dressed, well groomed and seemed cheerful.

"How's my mother, Arkwright," he inquired, stiffly.

"Much the same," Arkwright answered formally. "As you are aware, her heart is weak. The chief thing is to avoid excitement or worry of any kind."

"We'll see to that," Edgar declared jovially. "I'm going to stop at home a bit and take care of her. I need a rest. Town's a bit too hectic for me."

"She needs great care," was all Arkwright said, and moved to the door. "Good morning, Mr. Trelawney. Good-bye, Miss Garland." He went out and Peggy would have followed him, but Edgar stopped her.

"Can I see my mother to-day?" he said.

"I will ask her," Peggy replied briefly.

"Did Arkwright ask about Chesham?" Edgar went on.

"He said he had heard that Mr. Chesham had left. I told him that was true."

"I think we've come out of it jolly well."

"Speak for yourself," said Peggy, so bitterly that Edgar stared.

Edgar did see his mother that afternoon and they talked for nearly an hour. Afterwards she told Peggy.

"Edgar is going to give up London and live at home. He seems quite changed. I think that now he will really settle down. He confessed that he is in debt again, but tells me that if I will advance him his next year's allowance, he can clear up everything."

She paused and looked up expectantly, but Peggy kept silence. Mrs. Trelawney babbled on.

"So I am going to send for Mr. Meakin to arrange it. And while he is here I am going to make my will. Of course I am not going to die yet, but Edgar thinks I ought to do it, and I believe he is right. There are legacies, for instance, and Edgar reminded me that I must forget you, Peggy. He suggested £200 a year, will that please you, Peggy?"

Peggy was astonished. The idea that her employer would leave her any thing had never even occurred to her. That Edgar should have suggested it was incredible.

"It is most generous," she managed to say, and her amazement evidently pleased her employer.

"Give me my writing things," she said with a smile.

* * * * *

PEGGY had a worse night than the one before. Apart from the ceaseless worry about the Chesham tragedy, there was the puzzle of the legacy to agitate her tired mind. The only possible explanation was that Edgar suggested the legacy as a bribe to keep her mouth shut.

Her thoughts turned to the rubies. She wandered if Edgar still had some idea of stealing them. Next day, when taking a necklace from the safe for Mrs. Trelawney, she lifted out the old brown leather case.

"What's this, Mrs. Trelawney?" she asked innocently. The invalid took the case in her plump hands.

"The Sarapore rubies. Dear me. I had almost forgotten their existence. They came to me from my husband's grandfather, Peggy. He was in the Mutiny." She opened the case and looked at the stones. They are very fine, I believe, but I never cared to wear them. They are so heavy and the color does not suit me."

"They certainly are magnificent," agreed Peggy as she examined the stones. "They must be worth a great deal of money. Do you think it's wise to keep them here? If a burglar got wind of them he would take any risk to steal them." Mrs. Trelawney shuddered.

"Yes, yes, Peggy," she said quickly, "but what can we do about them?"

"That's simple," Peggy smiled. "Put them in the bank."

"Yes, of course, that will be the best plan. We can do it to-day. I thought of calling on Mrs. Jardine this afternoon. If we start early we can go to the bank first. Arrange with Vincent."

Vincent, the lean, solemn chauffeur, brought the car round as arranged, and Peggy, with the rubies in a brown paper parcel, followed her employer into it. At Taverton the bank manager, Mr. Petherick, received the case and gave a receipt for it, then Vincent was told to drive to Snipe's Barrow.

The Coombe Royal estate covered some twelve hundred acres, and this house, which had been let to Mrs. Jardine, was one of several on the property, and was about two miles from Mrs. Trelawney's home. It was long but low, painted white, with a veranda running its whole length, and had a walled garden.

The car rolled up over newly-spread gravel, and Vincent got out and rang. A dark-complexioned maid, evidently French, appeared; and Mrs. Trelawney was helped out of the car and up the steps.

The drawing-room, into which they were ushered, was charmingly furnished but it, too, had a foreign air. The pictures, mostly watercolors, were all extremely modern, and there was some good china which seemed to be mostly Sèvres. Mrs. Trelawney put on her glasses and looked round.

"She has good taste," she remarked.

"I am glad to hear you say so," came a deep rich voice, and Peggy, turning quickly, saw the new tenant coming in through the French window. She was the woman whom Peggy had rescued from the upset car.


DURING the talk between Mrs. Trelawney and the new tenant, Peggy, sitting a little to one side, had an opportunity of studying the newcomer. The more she looked the more convinced she became that there was something unusual, mysterious, even sinister about Mrs. Jardine.

Mrs. Trelawney was old fashioned. She refused tea and, at the end of the regulation twenty minutes, rose to take leave. Mrs. Jardine did not urge her to stay but went with her visitors to the door. Mrs Trelawney stopped a moment in the hall to examine a handsome carved screen and Mrs. Jardine took the opportunity to speak to Peggy.

"The car was all right," she whispered. "I got Pardon to look after it. Of course I did not mention running into you, but simply said I hit the bank. I hope that you and Mr. Trelawney were not too late getting home?" There was nothing in the words; there was so much in the way the woman said them that Peggy flushed scarlet.

"Thank you," she said coldly. "We got home quite safely."

All the way back Mrs. Trelawney chatted about Mrs. Jardine and the charming way in which she had done up the house. Peggy was too full of resentment to pay much heed. That woman believed or pretended to believe that she had been joy-riding with Edgar. And how did she know that the muffled up man with her had been Edgar? Two days later, Mrs. Jardine returned the call and Peggy, who had been busy when she arrived, was surprised to find Edgar with her in the drawing-room, chatting in most friendly fashion.

Another week passed, and Arkwright, calling to see Mrs. Trelawney, met in the drive a square-built, clean-shaven man of about sixty. He had keen blue eyes, a big Roman nose, and to Arkwright there was something curiously familiar about his face.

Both men pulled up and looked at one another, then the elder put out his hand. "You must be Arkwright," he said.

"And you are Gerald Meakin's father," Arkwright answered.

"I'm very glad to meet you, Arkwright. My son often speaks to you. I suppose you are going to see the old lady. You and Peggy Garland between you take very good care of her."

"Miss Garland is a good sort," Arkwright answered.

"I'll come back to the house with you, Arkwright," said Meakin. "I'm on duty to-day. I managed to get a holiday for Peggy, and she's gone fishing."

"Fishing!" Arkwright repeated, and Meakin laughed at his amazement.

"Didn't you know she fished?"

"She never told me."

"She doesn't boast of her achievements."

Fishing was Arkwright's great hobby and the chief reason why he had taken a practice in Devonshire.

An hour later he had tracked down Peggy. She was wading in the tall of a long, flat pool and casting up it. She was using a little eight-foot rod, light as a feather, but the way in which her line flew out straight as an arrow, and the dainty fall of her files on the edge of the stickle, gave him a thrill which only a fisherman could feel. She turned as he came up, and smiled.

"Not a bit of use, doctor. Thunder is brewing and not a fish moving."

"You never told me you fished," he said reproachfully.

"I've fished all my life," Peggy told him. My father taught me. But what are you doing up here?"

"I came to watch you. Mr. Meakin told me you were up here. I've seen Mrs. Trelawney, and she seems pretty well. Is Edgar behaving himself?"

Peggy frowned.

"He has taken to golf. He plays with Mrs. Jardine. He and she seem to be excellent friends. He goes to bed before midnight, and spends at least a couple of hours every day with his mother. He behaves so well it bothers me."

"Don't let it. At any rate it's good for his mother. Tell me about yourself. Have you any relations?" If Peggy was surprised, she didn't show it.

"A sister, that's all. She's a widow. Her husband was Hugh Cayley, a test pilot and was killed a year ago. She lives in London, and I never see her. But we write."

Before Arkwright could answer distant thunder broke the sultry stillness. Peggy sprang up.

"A storm! I must go back. Mrs. Trelawney is terrified of thunder."

Arkwright glanced upwards. To the North West, over the High Moor, the sky was the color of blue-black ink The cloud, tipped with a rolling fringe of white vapor, was rushing towards them with startling speed. There was another crash louder than before, and this was followed by a deep and terrifying roar.

"It's a cloud-burst" Arkwright claimed and, as he spoke, a wave of brown water at least six feet high came running round the bend just above them.

He snatched up Peggy as if she had been a child and ran hard up the slope.

Out Of The Tempest, Love.

PEGGY was a little breathless but quite composed when Arkwright set her down at the top of the slope.

"I'm not a cripple," she remarked with gentle sarcasm. "In fact I can probably run as fast as you."

The journey back was something Peggy never forgot. The centre of the storm passed right over them and Peggy had never seen such lightning or heard such thunder. Twice flash and crash came practically at the same moment, and the second stroke was so close it felt as if a bomb had burst immediately above their heads.

"That hit something," said Arkwright as he lifted a dripping branch for Peggy to get past. "Here we are at the gate. Can't say I'm sorry. This is the worst I've seen since I was on the West Coast of Africa." He opened the gate and they went through. The storm was passing as swiftly as it had come and, though it was still raining hard, they could see the house. Peggy stopped short.

"Oh, look!"

The great cedar of Lebanon under which she had been sitting on the night of Chesham's death had been riven to fragments which were scattered all over the upper lawn. Nothing was left but a shattered spike on the trunk which was actually smouldering in spite of the rain. Arkwright slackened his pace.

But Peggy was running hard.

"Hurry!" she urged. "Mrs. Trelawney will be scared to death by this."

Water was pouring off both of them in rills as they entered the house, but Peggy ran straight up stairs. Rose met her at the door of Mrs. Trelawney's room. Her face was white and frightened.

"She's fainted, miss!" the girl said.

"The doctor is here," Peggy told her and, as she spoke, Arkwright came up. He went straight in, to find Mrs. Trelawney fully dressed, lying on her bed. Her eyes were closed, and she was unconscious.

"Give me the nitrite, Peggy," he said, and it was not until afterwards that Peggy remembered that this was the first time he had called her by her Christian name.

* * * * *

BACK at his home, and changed, Arkwright sat down to a very late lunch. Like some men who live much alone he had acquired a habit of talking to himself and presently he spoke.

"Tell you what, John, you're falling for that girl," he muttered, and helped himself to junket, but instead of eating it stared vaguely out of the window.

Peggy, too, was eating a solitary lunch, for Edgar was playing golf with Mrs. Jardine. Mr. Meakin had gone to Taverton, and Mrs. Trelawney was safely tucked up in bed. But Peggy was much happier than John Arkwright. She knew her own mind, had known it for some time past. Now she realised that her man was beginning to know his.

The two gardeners were busy cleaning up the debris of the storm. Vincent was driving Mr. Meakin, so Rose volunteered to cycle to Nethercombe and get Mrs. Trelawney's medicine from Perkins the young chemist. Peggy saw her start, and thought how smart she looked.

"Poor Perkins will be quite overcome," thought Peggy with a smile. She and all the staff at Coombe Royal knew that the chemist cherished a passion for pretty Rose Weller, but was too shy to declare it.

Rose knew it, too, but at the same time she was very conscious of being a farm laborer's daughter and, to her mind, Charles Perkins belonged to a quite different class. It flattered her greatly that he should take notice of her.

Nethercombe was a typical Devonshire village with one broad street, two public houses and half a dozen shops. Rose got off at the door of Perkins' shop, propped her machine against the wall and went in. The place was small, but beautifully neat.

Hearing the bell Charles Perkins came out from behind the screen. He was a tall, narrow-chested young man who stooped slightly. Spectacles concealed his large and rather nice grey eyes; his black hair was carefully parted and his dark suit had been made by a Plymouth tailor. At sight of Rose he stopped short and reddened.

"G-good afternoon, Miss Weller," he stammered. He thrust out his hand, then drew it back again.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Perkins." replied Rose demurely. She put out her hand and Perkins grasped it as if it had been a life line and held on to it.

"You—you are quite well, I hope, Miss Weller," he asked.

"Quite well, thank you," Rose answered primly. She knew perfectly what was passing in the young man's mind and wished devoutly that he was not so shy. Yet to her this was part of his charm. It was such a pleasing contrast to the rough endearments of the young farm men. Their only idea of making themselves pleasant was to grab a girl round the waist and try to kiss her.

Rose saw sadly that there was no hope of an invitation to tea, and decided to get on with the job. She took the prescription from her bag.

"Miss Garland wants this made up for Mrs. Trelawney." Perkins studied it.

"It—it will take a minute or two," he said. "P-please sit down, Miss Weller." He came round the counter and set a chair for her. He stood over her, gazing down at her. His face was working oddly and Rose felt a delicious thrill. She believed he was going to kiss her. At this critical moment the door opened and a boy came thumping in.

"Mother wants two pen'orth of they salts, Mr. Perkins," he said.

Roused At Dawn.

PERKINS said a word under his breath. Disappointed as she was, Rose felt distinctly cheered.

Perkins wrapped up the salts and gave them to the boy, who banged out. But the magic moment was past. Too shy to attempt to recover it, Perkins went behind the counter. Rose noticed how his hand shook as he picked up the prescription, and again his agitation pleased her. He disappeared behind the screen, and some minutes passed before he came back with a small parcel neatly wrapped and sealed. As he shook hands, Rose paused a moment, hoping he might say something else. He wanted to—she saw that—but shyness overcame him. With a tiny sigh she turned and went.

Edgar reached home in time to dress for dinner. He asked after his mother and Peggy told him what the doctor had said. Then he went to his mother's room.

When Peggy came down Mr. Meakin was already in the drawing-room, and Edgar was soon with them.

He turned to Peggy. "Mother looks bad."

"She had a shock," Peggy replied, "but Dr. Arkwright assured me there is no need to be anxious. He is not coming again until to-morrow afternoon."

"I hope he is right," said Edgar with such unusual gravity that Peggy gave him a quick look. The change in him was so great that she found it difficult to understand.

Edgar was very silent during dinner, but Peggy and Mr. Meakin chatted away. Peggy was s favorite with the old solicitor and she, for her part, liked him greatly.

Afterwards Peggy went up to relieve Rose, who had been sitting with Mrs. Trelawney, now revived and by no means pleased to hear from Peggy that the doctor had ordered a milk diet. Peggy herself made her a cup of patent food. Presently Edgar knocked and came in and his mother began to complain of being starved.

"May she have a glass of her wine?" Edgar asked Peggy and Peggy answered that she thought the doctor wouldn't mind. The wine was a Chablis of which Mrs. Trelawney was very fond and there was a decanter in the room.

As it happened, it was empty and Edgar, instead of ringing, said that he would refill it himself. He went down and came back in a few minutes with the decanter refilled. He himself poured out a glass and gave it to his mother.

She asked him what he had been doing and he told her that he had taken Mrs. Jardine for a drive and had tea with her at her home. Again Peggy was struck by Edgar's kindness and consideration for his mother. Yet for the life of her she could not like him any better. The night of Chesham's death stuck in her memory. It seemed to her flatly impossible that a man who had shown such brutal selfishness as Edgar had then displayed could possibly reform.

Presently he went down and Peggy made the invalid comfortable for the night. Then she opened the bottle of medicine, carefully measured out the dose, and added the water.

"A new prescription," she told the old lady. "Dr, Arkwright thinks it will do you good and help you to sleep." She gave the glass to Mrs. Trelawney, who took the medicine obediently.

"Its nasty," she said with a little shiver as she dropped back on her pillows.

Peggy recorked the bottle and put it on the bedside table next to the decanter. She washed out the medicine glass, then turned out the lights, leaving only the night-light burning. After that she sat down in an easy chair, Mrs. Trelawney spoke.

"There is no need for you to wait Peggy. I am quite comfortable," Such consideration was unusual and Peggy felt a little glow of gratitude.

"I'll just stay till you are asleep," she said quietly, "then I will go down and talk to Mr. Meakin."

Mrs. Trelawney was soon asleep and Peggy went down and had a chat with the lawyer. He told her he had drawn up the will and that it was properly signed and witnessed, and congratulated her on her legacy.

"The only snag is this, Peggy," he said, "that you have to stay with Mrs. Trelawney while she lives. That's a hard condition. A girl like you ought to marry and have a family." She raised her head.

"It's only natural that Mrs. Trelawney should wish me to stay with her, Mr. Meakin. It would be difficult for her to train anyone else to run the house. But frankly, I shall be very glad to have this money." Mr. Meakin nodded.

"I take it you've saved something Peggy. You have not much opportunity to spend money here."

"Very little," Peggy confessed. "I have to help my sister. She was left badly off."

"Surely she got compensation for the death of her husband."

"She got three thousand pounds, but that is only about £120 a year."

"It was a lump sum. She could have started in business of some sort." Peggy shook her head.

"Isobel is no good at anything of that kind. I'm glad to be able to help her."

The lawyer remained silent. He knew much more about Isobel Cayley than he had admitted. He classed her as a selfish, pleasure-loving person of the same type as Edgar but would not say so for fear of hurting Peggy. He was really fond of Peggy and had already made up his mind that she was just the wife for John Arkwright. He had known of him for a long time past, for Arkwright was a particular friend of his own son, Gerald, a doctor-barrister who was already well known as a Home Office expert.

Presently Peggy got up and said good night.

Before she retired, Peggy want into Mrs. Trelawney's room. She was sound asleep so Peggy went peacefully to bed. Tired from her long day, she slept at once and did not move until roused by someone shaking her awake. Rose was bending over her and Rose's face was white and frightened.

"The mistress, Miss Peggy! She looks terrible. I'm afraid she's very ill."

This Is Not Natural Death.

IN dressing gown and slippers hastily donned, Petty ran into the room opposite. The curtains were still closed but Rose had switched on the light, and Peggy saw at once that Rose was right. Mrs. Trelawney was breathing heavily. Her face was grey and her lips had a bluish tinge. Peggy did not waste a moment.

"Telephone for Dr. Arkwright," she said to Rose. "Tell him it's urgent." Then, as Rose hurried out of the room, Peggy took a capsule of nitrite of amyl from a box at the bedside and broke it under Mrs. Trelawney's nose.

The pungent fumes had no effect whatever, and now Peggy was really alarmed. She felt Mrs. Trelawney's pulse. It was terribly slow and irregular. She drew the curtains and opened the window wide, letting in the fresh cool air of a dewy September morning, But the dawn light only made Mrs. Trelawney's grey face more ashen. Rose came hurrying back.

"We can't get through, Miss. The wire's broken. It was the storm, yesterday. I've called Vincent and told him to go with the car.

"That was right," said Peggy. "Ah, he's starting now."

"How is she, Miss Peggy?"

"Bad, Rose. You'd better call Mr. Edgar."

Rose ran off again and Peggy heard her rapping at Edgar's door. In less than a minute Edgar came in. He was wearing a brilliantly colored silk dressing gown over his pyjamas, and his usually sleek hair was all on end. But it was the look on his face which startled Peggy. It wasn't anxiety—it was sheer terror and Peggy gazed at him in amazement.

For a moment he seemed unable to speak and, when he did speak, his voice was hoarse and unnatural.

Ill—mother ill! What's the matter with her?" Then without waiting for Peggy's reply, he hurried to the bedside and leaned over.

"Good God!" he gasped. "She's dying!" He stepped back so abruptly that he bumped into the bedside table and knocked it over. It fell with a crash of breaking glass, which sounded unnaturally loud in that quiet room. Edgar seemed unconscious of the wreck he had caused.

"The doctor! Send for the doctor," he said.

"Rose rang at once," Peggy told him, "but the wire is down. Vincent has gone with the car. Dr. Arkwright will be here in a very few minutes. You can't do anything for her, Mr. Trelawney. You had better dress." Edgar stood a moment, staring at Peggy and, for the life of her, Peggy could not read what was passing in his mind.

"Yes, yes. I'll dress," he said, at last and went out of the room.

Peggy busied herself picking up the broken glass, The wine decanter, the medicine bottle and the medicine glass were all smashed. She piled the pieces on the table and mopped up the spilled liquid with a cloth. She had barely finished when she heard the car outside. Looking out of the window she saw Arkwright, bag in hand, spring out. Another few seconds, and he was in the room.

John Arkwright never wasted time or words. He went straight to the bedside, laid his bag on the table, then felt Mrs. Trelawney's pulse. Peggy watching him saw his lips tighten. He opened his bag, took out a stethoscope.

* * * * *

FOR an hour or more the young doctor did everything in his power to save his patient's life, but all his efforts were useless. It was impossible to rouse her from the deep coma into which she had fallen. Just before eight o'clock Arkwright straightened his long body and turned to Peggy.

"It's the end," he said.

"I'd better tell Edgar," Peggy said, but Arkwright stopped her.

"Wait a minute, Peggy." He paused and seemed to have difficulty to finding words. His face, too, was so troubled that Peggy was puzzled. "Tell me," he said gently. "You are sure you carried out my instructions exactly." Peggy's eyes widened.

"Of course," she answered.

"That medicine," Arkwright went on. "You gave the precise dose indicated on the bottle?"

"I did. I measured it very carefully and mixed it with the correct amount of water." He pointed to the pile of glass on the table.

"How did these things come to be broken?"

"Edgar bumped into the table and upset it. He was in the room just before you came." Arkwright bit his lip.

"It's very unfortunate," she heard him say. Peggy felt suddenly uneasy.

"Why is it unfortunate?" she asked. "I can't make out what you are talking about."

"And I don't find it too easy to tell you, Peggy. This is not a natural death. Mrs. Trelawney has been poisoned."

"Poisoned," said Peggy slowly. There was a puzzled frown on her face as she gazed up at Arkwright. "Poisoned!" she repeated. "But—but that's impossible. No one has given her anything except myself—oh, and Edgar."

"What did Edgar give her?"

"Some wine. Last night just a glass of her own wine that you allow her to have."

"Were you in the room?"

"Yes, close by. I saw him pour it out." Arkwright stood stock still. The expression on his face showed that he was terribly upset.

"The food," he asked. "What did she have last night?"

"A cup of milk food, as you ordered. Nothing else. I made it for her, myself."

A sound that was like a groan came from Arkwright's lips. He looked at Peggy and saw that even now she did not understand. He would have given his right hand to spare her pain, but he was a doctor and his duty came before anything else."

"There will have to be an inquest, Peggy," he told her, and saw that at last she had grasped the situation. The color faded from her cheeks, but her eye met his firmly.

"I understand now. I shall be suspected."

Arkwright did not answer. For the moment he could not speak.

A "Fishing" Inquest.

JOHN ARKWRIGHT was waiting, tensely erect, in the little gun room of Coombe Royal. He stepped forward as Peggy came in, and took both her hands.

"Peggy, I had to see you before the inquest." His deep voice vibrated slightly and his eyes were full of anxiety. "I want to beg you, whatever happens, not to let it get you down"

"You mean that they may even suspect me."

"It's no use mincing matters. That's just what I do mean, and I came to warn you. But remember this, Meakin and I and the staff here, all the people who know you, believe in you."

"I shan't forget it," Peggy said. "And—and it does help." Arkwright looked at her and wondered to see her so calm and composed.

"If I could only have saved you this ordeal," he burst out. She smiled up at him.

"I know. But you have your duty to do. Don't worry about it. The truth will come out." Admiration glowed in Arkwright's eyes.

"You're wonderful, Peggy. Yes, somehow we shall get at the truth. Now I must go. I have a lot to do before the inquest. It will be at eleven, but that you know."

The inquest was held in what was called the Games Room. This had once been a granary but had been fitted up by Mrs. Trelawney's husband for the staff to play games such as table tennis and darts. It was a big, airy and well-lighted room above the garage.

Large as it was, it was crowded long before the inquest was due to begin.

Punctually at 11 o'clock the Coroner came in. He was Mr. Sidney Sturrock who lived just outside Taverton, a middle-sized man, between, fifty and sixty. He had a high forehead, thin greying hair, a straight nose, and a quiet, self-contained manner.

Mr. Meakin was present, and with him was his son, Gerald, the Home Office expert. Gerald was a big, handsome young man with a strong face and a mop of curly brown hair. His father had telephoned for him.

The hum of talk died down as Mr. Sturrock came to his feet, and gave a brief account of Mrs. Trelawney's illness and death.

Arkwright was called as the first witness.

He told of visiting Mrs. Trelawney just after the storm.

"You gave a prescription to be made up?"

"I did. It was sodium-phenyl-barbitone, commonly called Luminol. This drug is usually supplied in tablet form, but Mrs. Trelawney was unable to swallow tablets. That is the reason why I had it made up as a liquid."

"You gave the prescription to Miss Garland?"

"That is so."

"We will now pass on to the next morning. You were called early to Coombe Royal."

"It was about 7 o'clock. Vincent, Mrs. Trelawney's chauffeur, came for me with the car. He explained that they had tried to ring me up but that the wire was down, broken in the storm. I came at once and found Mrs. Trelawney in a state of coma from which it was impossible to rouse her. She died an hour later."

"You formed the opinion that she had been poisoned?"

"I did. And the autopsy confirmed that opinion."

"She was poisoned by luminol?"

"By that or some similar narcotic. My opinion is confirmed by that of Mr. Gerald Meakin."

He offered the further opinion that the amount administered was not large. It would amount perhaps to double the dose prescribed. He could see no other possible cause for the condition in which he found Mrs. Trelawney, but it must be remembered that her heart was weak, that her blood-pressure was dangerously high, and that she would therefore be seriously affected by a dose which would not prove fatal to a person in good health.

Peggy followed Dr. Arkwright. She was dressed in black which set off the extreme fairness of her skin. She seemed completely calm and composed.

Everyone craned forward to look at her for whispers had been at work already. Yet Peggy was conscious that many of the people were friendly towards her.

When she began to speak her voice was low but so clear that every word could be heard all over the big room.

She told of the storm and of hastening home and her story was precisely the same that Arkwright had already told. Then the Coroner began to question her.

Answering his inquiries she said that Rose Weller took the prescription into Nethercombe and Mr. Perkins made it up. The medicine was not to be given until the evening, and she, Peggy, gave the dose.

The bottle was one of those with lines upon it showing the number of doses. She measured the amount very carefully knowing that barbitone preparations are poisonous. She put the glass to the patients lips but Mrs. Trelawney took the glass and drank it herself.

"Did she make any remark?"

"No, but she screwed up her lips as if she did not like it, and I gave her a glass of plain water of which she drank a little."

The milk food was mentioned and Peggy agreed that she prepared that.

"Then no one but yourself gave Mrs. Trelawney food or drink on that last night of her life?"

"No," began Peggy then checked. "I was forgetting. Mr. Edgar Trelawney gave her a glass of wine."

Whispered comment rippled through the room. People looked round for Edgar but he was not there.

Unanimous Verdict.

"IT was a right white wine of which she was fond," said Peggy in answer to another question. "There was a decanter in Mrs. Trelawney's room. But this was empty so Mr. Trelawney took the decanter down and refilled it. He came back quickly, poured out a glass and gave it to his mother." Mr. Sturrock took off his glasses, polished them with a silk handkerchief, then continued his questions.

The answers told how the decanter was broken when the bedside table was upset, along with everything on the table including the bottle of luminol.

"Most unfortunate," said Mr. Sturrock. "Will you now tell me at what time on that night you last saw Mrs. Trelawney?"

"About half past ten. I went into her room last thing before I went to bed and found her sleeping. I did not sit up with her because Mr. Arkwright had told me that there was no need to do so."

"We come to the next morning—yesterday morning."

Peggy told how Rose had called her, how frightened the girl was and of the state in which she had found her employer. She related how she had used amyl without result and of sending the car for Dr. Arkwright.

"One more question, Miss Garland," said the Coroner. "You are definitely certain you gave the correct dose?"

"I am certain," Peggy said firmly.

Arkwright sighed with relief as Peggy finished her evidence. He could sense the favourable impression she had produced. He hoped devoutly nothing would occur to upset it. Now Rose Weller was called and what she said confirmed Peggy's story in every detail. Her evidence only took a few minutes, then Charles Perkins was summoned.

Arkwright who, of course, knew Perkins well, was shocked at his appearance. Perkins was always delicate, but now he looked really ill. The unfortunate man was trembling from head to foot. Facing a crowd like this was too much for him.

"You must speak up, please, Mr. Perkins," said the Coroner kindly, after his first answer. "I have only a few questions to ask you."

Perkins's bony hands were clutching the back of the chair behind which he stood, as he stammered out his evidence.

He had no difficulty in reading the prescription, and he made it up according to directions. On the last point he answered confidently.

Again the audience craned their necks as Edgar Trelawney came in. Most of them knew him by sight; all knew him by repute.

Edgar wore a black suit with a black tie and a black band round his sleeve. He looked well and his expression was well controlled—grave, but not too solemn—as he acknowledged the Coroner's sympathetic references to his loss.

The first question related to the wine he gave to his mother. "Could he be quite sure it had not been tampered in any way?"

"Perfectly certain," Edgar replied. "The decanter being empty, I went down to the dining-room and took a fresh bottle from the cellaret. Martin, our butler, was in the room and he pulled the cork for me and poured the wine into the decanter. I took it straight upstairs." Mr. Surrock nodded.

"You gave nothing else to your mother, Mr. Trelawney?"

"Nothing whatever. I did not go up again because I understood from Miss Garland that my mother would be asleep. So far as I can gather, no one but Miss Garland entered my mother's room that Tuesday morning, or gave her food or drink." There was a slight stir in the quiet room. Mr. Surrock leaned forward.

"You seem to be laying the blame for what happened upon Miss Garland, Mr. Trelawney," he said in his quiet voice. Edgar shrugged.

"Miss Garland has been companion to my mother for three years. Her services were greatly appreciated both by my mother and myself. The proof is that I recommended my mother to leave her a legacy, and this she did. I say this to make it plain that I have no feeling whatever against Miss Garland. What I suggest is that Miss Garland made a mistake in measuring the dose she gave my mother."

The room became so quiet that the chatter of two sparrows fighting in the yard outside could be plainly heard. Arkwright turned to Gerald Meakin, who sat beside him.

"The swine," he whispered. "I believe he is trying to save his own dirty skin."

"A legacy," the Coroner repeated slowly. "Was the amount important?"

"I suggested two hundred pounds a year," Edgar answered.

"And was Miss Garland aware of this bequest?"

"I believe my mother told her of it." Again Mr. Surrock took off his glasses and polished them.

"Thank you Mr. Trelawney," he said in a formal tone. "We will not trouble you further."

"Surrock doesn't like him any better than we do," Gerald whispered back to Arkwright, but Arkwright shook his head.

"This is awful," he said. "I never heard of this infernal legacy. He paused a moment. "I suppose it goes to the jury now."

"Wait," said Gerald. "There's another witness."

Sergeant Caunter was called. He was a big man of about forty, quiet slow-speaking, competent. He had lived and worked in Devonshire all his life. His story began when he had been called in on Tuesday morning. Vincent had called him and he had reached the house within about an hour of Mrs. Trelawney's death.

"You made an investigation?" the Coroner asked.

"Dr. Arkwright gave me the details, sir; then I questioned Miss Garland and Rose Weller. I asked specially about the table being upset. That, it seems, was done by Mr. Trelawney, who knocked against it accidentally. I asked for the pieces of broken glass, but they had been already cleared away and thrown into the dustbin. I went to the dustbin, but could recover nothing of value for the purposes of this investigation." He paused.

"Most unfortunate," muttered Mr. Surrock. "Have you anything else to tell us, Sergeant?"

"Yes, sir. I searched the house to make sure that there was no other supply of the drug or poison which killed Mrs. Trelawney. In the guest room near the head of the stairs I found this." He held up a small bottle half full of a brownish liquid.

"It was at the back of a small drawer in a bureau. The bureau is one of those old-fashioned pieces made of teak. The front lets down to form a writing table and there are three small drawers on either side. This bottle was pushed in at the back of one of the drawers and was wrapped in a piece of newspaper. It was only by chance that I found it."

"And what are the contents?" the Coroner asked.

Again the room was tensely silent. All eyes were on the big policeman.

"I had the contents analysed, sir, by Mr. Dobell, the chemist at Taverton. It is a preparation of opium well known to the police, and commonly known as knock-out drops."

The Verdict.

"KNOCK-OUT drops!" This was real melodrama. Arkwright could feel the tingle of excitement all through the room.

The only person who did not seem to be specially thrilled was Mr. Sturrock. He turned to Gerald Meakin.

"Mr. Meakin, I should like your opinion as to whether a dose from this bottle could have been taken by Mrs. Trelawney—whether or not it would have been detected by your examination. Gerald Meakin stood up. He spoke slowly and thoughtfully.

"A very few drops on top of the luminol would have proved fatal to a person in Mrs. Trelawney's condition, yet I think that even a small dose would have been detected by my analysts. In any case, sir, it seems to me that any person using such an obvious poison would hardly have been foolish enough to leave the bottle about." The Coroner nodded.

"That is a point, Mr. Meakin." He turned to the Sergeant. "There was no label or mark on the bottle?"

"None sir. Nor any date on the piece of newspaper. But the paper is not discolored. It looks fresh."

"Who last used the room?" the Coroner asked.

"A Mr. Chesham who came down from London about three weeks ago with Mr. Trelawney but was, I understand, recalled to London the same day that he arrived." Arkwright, glancing at Peggy noticed how tense she had become. And the look in her eyes. Was it anger or—was it fear? But Mr. Sturrock was asking Edgar about Chesham and, when Edgar got up, there was no doubt in Arkwright's mind that he was desperately nervous.

"This Mr. Chesham was a friend of yours, Mr Trelawney? the Coroner asked. Edgar pulled himself together.

"I knew him fairly well, sir, but he was not an intimate friend. He had been unwell and needed a change. That is why I asked him down. That same evening he had a telephone message to say that his brother was seriously ill. So he left by the late train from Taverton."

Again Arkwright looked at Peggy and now there was a color in her cheeks. The color of anger. She was blazing with indignation, yet trying to restrain her feelings. Arkwright felt profoundly uncomfortable. He could make nothing of it.

Edgar sat down and Mr. Sturrock recalled Peggy.

"Miss Garland, you have made no mention of this legacy. Were you aware of it?" His tone was sharper than usual, but Peggy did not raise her voice as she replied.

Mrs. Trelawney told me some days ago of her intention to leave me an annuity of £200 a year, and I was greatly surprised. But whether or not the bequest had been embodied in her will I had no means of knowing. Naturally then I did not speak of it." She paused then went on. "In any case I have been getting a salary of five pounds a week and a very comfortable house. It seems, then, hardly likely that I should murder my employer for the sake of less money and no home.

A gasp of surprise arose at the boldness of her words.

"Bravo, Peggy!" said Meakin half aloud.

"No one has accused you of anything, Miss Garland," said the Coroner curtly.

"I beg your pardon, sir. Mr. Trelawney has at least suggested it." The scorn with which she spoke stung Edgar. He jumped up.

"All I said was that I thought Miss Garland had made a mistake in pouring out the medicine. I never mentioned murder."

"Calm yourself, Mr. Trelawney," said the Coroner. "I am aware that you did not use the word: 'murder'." He looked towards the jury.

"We have had all the evidence available. After what Mr. Gerald Meakin has told us I do not think that there is any need to adjourn the inquest for the sake of inquiring into the origin of the bottle discovered by Sergeant Caunter. Is there any question that any of you would like to ask?" A juryman stood up. He was Samuel French, father of the new baby which Arkwright had helped into the world.

"Do 'ee think, zur, Mrs. Trelawney could have took another dose of the medicine, her own self. They du say the bottle was by her bed."

"What do you think, Dr. Arkwright?" the Coroner asked.

"Possible?," said Arkwright, slowly, "but extremely improbable."

"I agree," said the Coroner. "All the same, an intelligent question, Mr. French. The pity is that the medicine bottle was broken. It is that accident which has made the whole inquiry so difficult." He waited a moment, then, as no other jurymen spoke, sent them off to consider their verdict. Gerald Meakin leaned across to Arkwright.

"We're just as wise as when we started, John," he murmured. Arkwright shrugged.

"The only new thing is that bottle of knock-out drops," he whispered back. I'm fairly sure they belonged to Chesham. There was something fishy about that fellow. Did you see how scared Edgar Trelawney was when Chesham's name came up?"

"He did seem nervous. . . . hulloa!—here they are back again. They didn't take long."

The jury came in, and Cowle, the foreman, who was the Nethercombe grocer and a churchwarden, gave the verdict.

"We find that Mrs. Trelawney died of an overdose of luminol, but how or by whom administered, there is not sufficient evidence to show. That's unanimous, sir," he added.

"And I think the only possible verdict under the circumstances," said the Coroner, "though naturally unsatisfactory to all concerned. Whether anything further is done in the matter remains with the police. I thank you, gentlemen," he said and got up.

Arkwright made for the door. He wanted to catch Peggy. But he got wedged in the crowd. Two men in front of him were talking.

"Her never did it!" said one. "Her's a lady, her be!"

"Baint so sure," replied the other. "Two hundred pounds a year's a mint o' money. More so when 'ee don't have to work for un."

Arkwright felt a spasm of anger. He was driven to realise that opinion was divided as to Peggy's guilt or innocence. It made him the more anxious to find her and tell her what was in his mind. But when he got outside he could see nothing of Peggy. He went to the house, saw Rose, and asked her to find Peggy. She came back presently to say that Miss Peggy was with the elder Mr. Meakin in the library, and that they were talking business.

"Miss Peggy said she was very sorry, but she could not see you now." Arkwright bit his lip.

"All right. Rose," he answered. "Tell her I will call this evening after I've finished my rounds." He paused, and noticed Rose's troubled face. "Don't be upset, Rose," he said, kindly. "It will all come right presently." Then he strode away.

He returned at the end of his rounds without delaying even to take his usual cup of tea. Rose answered his ring.

"Miss Peggy, sir—she's not here!—she's left!" Arkwright gazed at Rose as if he could not believe his senses.


"Gone to London, sir, by the 3.30," said Rose, in a shaken voice. "Vincent drove her to the station." She stopped, then—"Oh, sir, don't look like that!" she exclaimed, and burst into tears.

Peggy Gone. Address Secret.

MR. MEAKIN came out of the smoking-room and greeted the young doctor waiting in the hall.

"Come in, Arkwright. I want to speak to you."

Rose, with her handkerchief to her eyes, went away, and the lawyer, taking Arkwright by the arm, led him into the smoking-room and closed the door.

"Peggy—she's gone," John Arkwright said in a dazed way.

"I know I tried to keep her, but it was no use. She left a letter for you. Here it is. Read it." Arkwright took the letter and the lawyer strode over to the window where he stood with his back to Arkwright, looking out. Arkwright's fingers shook as he tore open the envelope.

"My dear John," Peggy had written in her beautifully clear hand.

"I could not help knowing what you meant to say to me when you came to the house after the inquest this morning, and don't mind telling you that I longed to hear it. Yet I have just sense enough to be sure that I cannot and must not marry you until this business is cleared up.

"It isn't what you or I think, John; it is the opinion of those around us. I saw and heard enough this morning to realise that I am under suspicion. And a doctor's wife, like Caesar's, must be above suspicion.

"Perhaps I ought to have told you this instead of writing it but, to be honest, I hadn't the pluck. So I am running away.

"I have given Mr. Meakin an address by which he can find me, but he is under promise not to give it to you. And he will never do so until the mystery of Mrs. Trelawney's death is cleared up. Be wise, John. Put me out of your mind. Forget Peggy Garland."

Arkwright spoke imperatively to Mr. Meakin. "You have her address. Tell me." The old lawyer's face was grave as he turned to the younger man.

John, you are a doctor, and you have taken the oath of Aesculapius. A solicitor's oath of secrecy is just as binding. Peggy is my client, and I cannot give you her address."

"You don t understand, I mean to marry her."

"Unfortunately, I understand too well. Peggy knows your intention as well as you do. And she, I think, is as fond of you as you are of her. But she does not let her feelings blind her." He paused a moment, then went on. "See here, you knew as well as I that some suspicion must attach to Peggy Garland. Peggy is a girl with a very fine character, and that is why she won't marry you or anyone else as long as a breath of this abominable suspicion clings to her. I need hardly tell you that she has refused the legacy." He laid a hand on Arkwright's arm.

"I'm desperately sorry for you, Arkwright, but even if you had Peggy here in this room you could not persuade her to change her mind."

John Arkwright was silent for a moment, gazing out of the window with an expression of grim determination.

"You have promised her not to give me her address and I respect your promise. But that doesn't mean that I can't find her. To-morrow I shall go to London to look for her."

Mr. Meakin shrugged his shoulders.

"If you've made up your mind to go, go you will. But you are only laying up fresh trouble for yourself. As I said before, the thing is to find evidence to clear Peggy. Then she will marry you quick enough."

"That evidence may take months to find," Arkwright answered. "Personally, I suspect Edgar Trelawney."

"Of poisoning his own mother?"

"It sounds pretty awful, but I do. There was plenty of time for him to slip something into that decanter on his way upstairs. I know the fellow was up to his eyes in debt and absolutely desperate. And remember this—that it was he who upset the table and so destroyed all evidence. I feel sure he did it on purpose. What's more, he ordered Rose Weller to throw all the broken glass into the dustbin. Rose told me this herself."

Meakin looked grave.

"This is important evidence. The inquest should have been adjourned."

"It's too late for that now," said Arkwright curtly. "And in any case we have no proof against the man." Steps sounded in the hall. "Oh, Lor', here he is! I must go."

"I'll come with you," said the lawyer. Then in a quick whisper: "Be civil to Edgar. Don't let him think you suspect him."

Edgar was in the hall. He had evidently just come in. His eyes widened at the sight of Arkwright, but he came forward with outstretched hand, and Arkwright had to take it .

"You will be at the funeral, of course," Edgar said.

"I regret to say that I shall not," Arkwright answered. "Unexpected business has turned up and I have to be away for two or three days."

"I'm sorry about that," Edgar said, but Arkwright, watching him, had an idea that he was lying. He was not sorry at all. Arkwright wondered.

* * * * *

CRAY, the doctor at Haxworthy, agreed to take care of Arkwright's practice during his absence, and that evening everything had been done to enable him to leave next morning on the 8.20 a.m. from Taverton.

Soon after eight he was in his car, driving along the narrow, winding road to Taverton at a brisk pace.

He drove mechanically, for his mind was on Peggy. He had little doubt about finding her, for she had spoken of her sister, and had mentioned that she lived in St. Leonard's Terrace, Chelsea. He did not know the number, but that did not matter much.

He reached the top of the long slope leading to the saddle between Okery and Wisdon Tors and increased speed along the level.

Suddenly the car lurched violently. The near front wheel seemed to have buckled suddenly. Arkwright wrenched at the steering wheel in a desperate effort to right the car, but it was no use. She shot off the road, hit the low bank, and turned over. Arkwright felt himself flying through the air. A thud which he heard rather than felt, a shower of sparks. After that—nothing.

Introducing Isobel.

WHILE Peggy's new address was being refused to Arkwright, a taxi man at a London terminus was being admitted to the secret by Peggy herself.

She told the man to drive to 16, Lower Chester Terrace. This was a small house kept by a Mrs. Ashe. Mrs. Ashe's husband had formerly been in the battalion commanded by Peggy's father. He had died years ago, and his widow, who owned the lease of this small house, made her living by letting rooms. Peggy had twice stayed with her, and wired to her from Taverton warning her of this third visit.

Mrs. Ashe, a plump little old woman with curly grey hair, met Peggy at the door with a smile that comforted Peggy's sore heart.

"Mrs. Trelawney's dead and I'm out of my job," Peggy explained over on elaborate tea which Mrs. Ashe had prepared. Peggy, who had been too unhappy to eat in the train, enjoyed the dainty food, and Mrs. Ashe talked so fast there was no need for Peggy to say much.

Mrs. Ashe showed her to her room which was on the ground floor.

"A lady's got both my top rooms," she explained. "She's Miss Glyde. Works for Benning's, the theatrical costumiers. They think a deal of her. You'll like her, Peggy. Now I'll help you unpack."

* * * * *

"PEGGY! what brings you to town? Why didn't you write? Why didn't you let me know?"

Peggy stood facing her sister, at the door of Isobel's Chelsea flat?

"All questions and no welcome," smiled Peggy. "Aren't you glad to see me, Belle?"

"Of course I'm glad to see you," said her sister, but there was no hint of welcome in her tone. Isobel reserved her warmest welcomes for herself, of whom she was very fond. She was two years older than Peggy, and bore little resemblance to her younger sister. Isobel's hair was fairer, her complexion had no natural coloring, and her clothes and grooming were studied to a degree for which Peggy had no time. This evening she was obviously dressed to dine out.

"Mrs. Trelawney is dead. Let me come in and I'll explain."

In the sitting-room of the flat Isobel listened in frozen silence but, as Peggy came to the end of her story, her sister's face expressed sheer horror.

"You—you mean they suspect you of poisoning Mrs. Trelawney!" she got out. Peggy raised her head.

"None of my friends do," she said proudly.

"But you are suspected. Oh, this is terrible. Such a disgrace!"

The bell rang. Isobel sprang up.

"It's Mr. Mason—a friend of mine. He mustn't find you here. Come into this room."

She bundled Peggy into her bedroom, which opened off the sitting-room, and quickly closed the door. Peggy was angry—so angry that she was on the point of flinging open the door and marching out. With her fingers on the handle, and the door an inch open, she paused.

"Hullo, old girl!" came a man's voice then the sound of a kiss.

Peggy saw a man of about thirty, of middle height, compact and strongly built. He was good looking in a flashy way, and his evening clothes were passable, except he wore a diamond stud in the front of his soft dress shirt.

Peggy could hardly believe that her sister had allowed such a man of that type to kiss her.

It became plain that Isobel had been expecting him, and that he had come to take her to dinner. Isobel donned a cloak and switched out the lights without the least regard to Peggy's presence.

Peggy waited until she heard the taxi drive away, then walked straight down the stairs and into the street, where she took a cab and drove back to her lodgings.

By the time she got there she was so wretched that all she thought of was bed. She hadn't reckoned with Mrs. Ashe. That good lady met her at the door and, knowing unhappiness when she saw it, led Peggy gently into her own sitting-room, put her in a big chair by the fire which she had just lit—sat down beside her and—said nothing at all.

Presently Peggy began to talk. She had not intended to tell Mrs. Ashe or anyone else what had happened, yet it was such a relief to confide in someone that she was certain that whatever she said to the old lady would go no further. Mrs. Ashe listened to the end.

"You poor dear!" she said softly. "I'm going to give you some supper first—just an omelet and toast and a cup of tea. Then we'll talk about what's best to be done. Miss Glyde is out to-night, so I'm not busy."

And after a simple but tasty supper Peggy and Mrs. Ashe talked until a late hour.

Changing Identity.

OLIVE GLYDE was thirty, tall, with a slim, strong figure and features that were handsome rather than pretty. Her skin was so dark that Peggy felt sure she was not at all English, her hair was intensely black, she had large but well-shaped hands and high-arched insteps.

When they met, by Mrs. Ashe's contriving, Peggy took to her at once and soon they were talking freely.

"I agree with Mrs. Ashe," Miss Glyde said presently. "Your best chance will be to change not only your name but your appearance. But all the same it's a pity. You're much too pretty a girl for tricks of that sort."

"Never mind that, Miss Glyde," Peggy answered. "What do you recommend?"

"Dyeing that nice hair of yours, altering your eyebrows and touching up your face and lips. But leave it to me. Come upstairs with me and I'll operate at once."

For the next hour she was busy and when she had finished told Peggy to look at herself in the glass.

Peggy looked and gasped.

"Know yourself?" asked Miss Glyde.

"Scarcely. I could not have believed it. You are a witch."

"My trade, my dear. Lots of stage folk come to me for advice. Well, so much for your new face. What about your new name?"

"I might take my mother's name—Fletcher."

"Good enough—Fletcher. What will go with it? You want a one-syllable name. How about Ruth?"

"Ruth Fletcher. That will do nicely," Peggy declared. "But I shall never remember it."

"Keep on saying it over to yourself, especially just before you go to sleep. And think of yourself as Ruth Fletcher."

"I'll try," said Peggy. "Now tell me what I owe you for all this."

"If your conscience demands it, you shall stand me a dinner one evening, and afterwards I'll take you to a little club where we dance."

"Indeed I'll stand you a dinner," said Peggy warmly. "And now I'll go to bed and try to get accustomed to my new self."

Peggy slept better that night. Next morning Mrs. Ashe brought her a letter.

"Someone knows your address, Miss Peggy," she remarked.

"It's Mr. Meakin," Peggy told her, but she waited till the other was gone before opening the letter. And that was just as well, for when Peggy read of John Arkwright's accident she nearly collapsed. The letter went on:

"There is no need for anxiety, Peggy. Luckily for John his skull seems to be nearly as hard as the rock he bumped into. He has slight a concussion and a broken collar-bone, but Cray says that he won't be more than a week in bed. Gerald is with him and he could not have a better nurse. If you think fit you might write to him. Of course you need not give him your address unless you feel you can change your mind.

"Now another matter. Through a client of mine I hear that Mrs. Reeves-Fareham wants a chauffeuse-companion. She's the woman who made a trip to the source of the Rio Negro, and wrote a book about it. Now she is married and lives at Hound Court, King's Langley. She has plenty of money and should pay a good salary."

Peggy sat down at once and wrote a grateful letter to the old solicitor. Then she took another sheet and began a letter to John. At first her pen flew over the paper. She covered a sheet, stopped, and read what she had written. She shook her head.

"This won't do, Peggy," she said to herself. "It isn't fair." Indeed it was a love letter she had been penning. She tore it up and began again.

Dear John,

Mr. Meakin has told me of your accident. I am terribly sorry that you have been hurt, and most grateful it is no worse. I am in comfortable quarters and have every prospect of getting good employment. But I have changed my name, and the Peggy you knew has ceased to exist, so I beg you not to waste time looking for her. Yet the old Peggy sends her love to the man she will never forget.

"Even that isn't too good," she said. "I ought not to have put in that last bit." She hastily brushed away a tear which threatened to fall on the sheet, folded her letter, put it in an envelope, addressed it, went out, took a bus and posted it in the Strand.

That evening she had a note from her sister.

"I was sorry to run off like that," Isobel wrote, "but you see for yourself I couldn't help it. I couldn't introduce you to Mr. Mason. I see in the paper that you refused to take the two hundred a year Mrs. Trelawney left you. I think you're crazy. How are you going to live? No one will give you a job. After this I think the less we see of one another the better."

Peggy had seldom been so angry. She took a sheet of paper and wrote on it:

"I quite agree," and signed it with her initials. She was saddressing this when Olive Glyde came into the room.

"What's the matter, Ruth? she asked Peggy handed her Isobel's letter. Olive read it.

"Funny how two sisters can be so different," she said. "You're well rid of her. I came in to suggest that we might have that dinner to-morrow night. A little outing won't do you any harm."

Peggy was not feeling in any mood for merriment but Olive Glyde had been so kind that she agreed it once. Most of the following day she spent in altering an evening frock. Camouflage, Olive called it and laughingly said that Peggy might have spared herself the trouble. Who was going to recognise her by a frock?

They dined at a little restaurant called the Delaine in Soho, where the food was simple but quite good and the bill most moderate. Peggy appreciated Olive's thoughtfulness in taking her to such a place. She knew she had done it to spare her purse. After that they went to a film, where Olive insisted on paying for the seats. A little before eleven they took a taxi, and Olive told the man to drive to the Green Lantern.

"It's a funny little place," Olive told her, "but quite decorous. I mean that a man can take his wife or sister there. Introductions are not needed. Any man can ask any girl to dance with him, but takes no offence if refused. I have my regular partners. One boy, Alan Ensworth, dances well, and I'll introduce him."

The taxi stopped opposite a building in Lower Regent-street, and Peggy, who had never been to a resort of this kind, was startled when she found herself in a lift dropping down into the basement. The manager, a tall, well-dressed but rather hard-faced young man, made Peggy sign her name in a book, and, if Olive had not nudged her, she would certainly have written Margaret Garland instead of Ruth Fletcher.

They went into a long, low-ceilinged room, where a small orchestra was playing and about a dozen couples dancing.

"It doesn't fill up for another hour," Olive said. "Ah, here's Alan. Alan, this is Ruth Fletcher. It's her very first visit to a dance club."

In spite of her dyed hair Peggy remained a very pretty girl, and Alan at once asked her to dance. Peggy was a natural dancer, and Alan, who was really good, was delighted and complimented her. He was very gay and amusing and, in spite of her troubles, Peggy enjoyed the turn.

There were not many seats, but Alan found two chairs, and began to point out various people and tell her about them.

More people kept on arriving, and suddenly Peggy heard a voice which she knew only too well. Right in front of her stood Mrs. Jardine wearing a brilliant yellow dress trimmed with black lace. With her was Edgar Trelawney. They were not more than three paces from young Ensworth and herself.

"What's the matter, Miss Fletcher?" Alan asked her in sudden anxiety.

But Peggy could not speak or move. She sat as if frozen.

Peggy Seeks A Job.

MRS. JARDINE and Edgar had been dancing. They had stopped for a moment and stood facing one another. Neither of them had yet set eyes on Peggy. Each instant she expected one or the other to see and recognise her in spite of her changed appearance.

Another couple came swinging past. The girl was tall and fair, her partner shorter, rather stout, and no dancer. As they came opposite to Mrs. Jardine and Edgar the stout man bumped into Edgar, lost his balance and stumbled in a grotesque way, attracting everyone's attention.

"Clumsy ass!" Peggy heard Edgar exclaim.

That broke the spell. Peggy sprang up.

She muttered an excuse to the mystified Alan, and hurried across the room to where Olive was standing against the wall.

"What's the matter?" Olive asked in a low voice.

"I'm scared. Edgar Trelawney is here with Mrs. Jardine. They were quite close to me." She shivered, but Olive laughed.

"My dear, aren't you frightening yourself for nothing? They'd never recognise you."

"Edgar might not," Peggy answered, "but the woman would. She's evil, Olive, and she hates me."

"Point her out," Olive whispered.

"There—in yellow and black. She's just coming past us." Olive watched Mrs. Jardine a moment and her face took on an oddly grave expression.

She took Peggy's arm. "Come into the other room."

The tiny glass of brandy which she insisted on Peggy taking did something to restore her confidence, but Olive decided that it would he best to put an end to the evening.

"Is he going to marry this Jardine woman?" she asked as they were driving back.

"He will if she wants him to," said Peggy with conviction. "I should think it depends on how much money he has left."

"I don't envy him if he does," said Olive. "Well, she's not likely to cross your path again and that's something to be thankful for."

"I wish l could think so," Peggy said gravely. "I have an odd feeling that I haven't done with her yet."

Next morning Peggy had a letter from Mrs. Reeves-Fareham, asking her to call at Hound Court on the following Tuesday afternoon. The notepaper was of the most costly, the writing was a scrawl, and no exact hour was specified. Peggy smiled. Evidently she was a casual person, but that need not make her a bad employer.

Tuesday was a dull day, but Peggy had an umbrella, and decided to walk the mile from the station to the house. It proved to be a bigger house than Coombe Royal, and much more modern. The grounds were really magnificent, with an artificial pond almost large enough to be called a lake.

A very stout, red-checked butler told Peggy that Mrs. Reeves-Fareham was busy, but soon she was ushered into a great bare room full of packing cases, among which a very large lady was desperately at work, aided by a small brown man. Mrs. Fareham was nearly six feet and plump. Her hair was all over the place, her face was shiny and she wore a shapeless brown holland overall. Yet Peggy liked the look of her. She gazed at Peggy in a vague way, then suddenly strode forward.

"You must be Miss Fletcher. I ought to have sent you a wire. Dear me!—I am sorry." She spoke to the brown man.

"Dass, get on with the packing and label the large cases for Nairobi. Come with me, Miss Fletcher and I'll explain." She took Peggy into the library and made her sit down.

"Miss Fletcher, I owe you a thousand apologies. The very day after I wrote to you my husband was asked to join a safari in East Africa. I decided to go with him. We leave next Friday, so you can imagine the rush. Of course I ought to have written to explain, but"—she shrugged—"I clean forgot." Peggy's heart sank.

"You mean you won't be wanting a companion?" she asked in a voice a little unsteady.

"I shan't. We're shutting up the house for six months. I'm terribly sorry to have dragged you out here for nothing, especially as I feel sure you would have been just right for me." Peggy smiled.

"It's nice of you to say that, Mrs. Reeves-Fareham." She rose.

"But you're not going until you've had tea," cried the other. "There are plenty of trains. And, in any case, I must make you some compensation for my carelessness and your wasted time.

Peggy smiled again.

"Please, Mrs. Reeves-Fareham, I don't want any compensation. But I'd love a cup of tea."

At that moment the butler appeared to announce a visitor in the drawing-room.

Mrs. Fareham shed her overall and guided Peggy over to the drawing-room.

The visitor, Miss Rivers, was fair and blue-eyed, tall as her hostess, but younger and more slim. She came across with both hands outstretched and kissed Mrs. Fareham.

"I know you are up to your eyes, Gertrude," she said, "but I had to come and say good-bye. I even drove myself, and you know how I hate driving. Robins has sprained his wrist, and it will be ages before he can drive again. Such a nuisance!"

"I'm very glad you've come, Althea," the other answered. "This is Miss Fletcher. Miss Fletcher, Miss Althea Rivers." Miss Rivers gave Peggy a large while hand covered with rings, smiled pleasantly, then went on talking to Mrs. Fareham.

Peggy had a feeling that the face of this tall young woman was somehow familiar, and all of a sudden it flashed upon her that this was the very girl who fallen on the dancing floor at the Green Lantern. The discovery gave her a shock, but she told herself that, but for that little mishap, she would never have remembered the woman, and she would have been utterly unaware of the coincidence which now disturbed her. It was highly unlikely that Miss Rivers had noticed her, and anyhow, the girl had no connection with Edgar or Mrs. Jardine.

Miss Rivers and Mrs. Fareham had much to say to one another, and Peggy, a little tired with her walk, leaned back in her comfortable chair and watched them until tea came, a great dish of buttered toast, and a big currant cake. In spite of her disappointment Peggy enjoyed her ten. She had plenty of leisure to do so for her hostess and Miss Rivers talked hard to one another, occasionally putting in a remark for Peggy's benefit.

The more she saw of the big lady the better Peggy liked her, and the more sad she felt that she had missed this chance of employment. It might he very difficult to find another job. Companions were not much in demand. Still, she had scarcely begun her quest and there was other work to which she might turn.

"You pass the station, Althea," said Mrs. Fareham, when the time came to leave "Do you mind dropping Miss Fletcher? It's just six, and there's a train back to London at the half hour."

"Of course I will," Miss Rivers answered readily as she put on her fur and picked up her gloves and bag.

Mrs. Reeve-Fareham came with them to the front door. When it was opened Miss Rivers stopped short with a look of dismay.

"Fog!" she exclaimed. "Whatever shall I do? I can't drive in this, Gertrude. I shall have to ring up for a taxi."

In The Misty Twilight.

PEGGY spoke.

"I can drive you into the town, Miss Rivers. There, no doubt, you could pick up a driver from your garage."

"Aren't you afraid of this fog?"

"I've driven in worse," Peggy said with a smile. "And I'm not a bit afraid."

"That's splendid," said Althea with a sigh of relief, and final good-byes were said. The fog was really no more than a mist and since a fog-lamp had been fitted to what was a new and well-equipped car, Peggy enjoyed the experience.

"Don't go fast," Miss Rivers begged. "I'm always, nervous in this sort of weather."

"I'll be very careful," Peggy promised.

"I'll show you the garage," the other said, "then when you've taken me there the man shall drive you to the station. Do you live on London?"

"I'm in lodgings there at present, but I'd much sooner live in the country."

"The country's all very well in summer, but I prefer to be in London in winter. I have a house in Belgrave Square." She gave a sudden scream. "Oh, look. That lorry!"

The lorry, a monstrous shadow in the misty twilight, had backed suddenly out of an unseen gateway. The road was narrow, with banks as high as those of a Devonshire lane. Peggy, who was driving at about twenty-five miles an hour, saw in a flash that she could not pull up in time to avoid a collision.

She did the only thing possible—put her foot down on the accelerator. The car leaped forward like a live thing. There was a slight jar as the rear wing just touched the back of the lorry, then they were past and safe.

Peggy pulled up instantly, got out and went back.

"That was pretty bad driving," she said to the man in the lorry. "And why have you no rear light? It's past lighting up time." The driver, an elderly man, was far more scared than Peggy.

"I looked round before I started, Miss, but I didn't see anything coming, You aint hurt, are you?"

"We are not hurt but the car wing is scratched. If you'd had a rear light I could have stopped. I shall have to take your number."

"I shall lose my job if you do, Miss," the man said in quiet despair. Peggy felt he was telling the truth.

"Then I won't report it. But let it be a lesson to you."

"One I won't forget. Thank you, Miss, and good-night."

Miss Rivers was still in a very shaky state when Peggy got into the car again. At the same time she was full of admiration for Peggy's presence of mind and quick action. She was, if possible, still more impressed by the way in which Peggy had gone back to tackle the lorry driver.

"It's wonderful. I couldn't have done it. I'd have been frightened to death."

"I was scared all right," Peggy said with a laugh, "but the man was far more scared than I. I told him I would not report him. Do you mind?"

"I don't mind. All I want is to get home in one piece." She sat up straight. "Miss Fletcher," she went on eagerly. "Do me a favor. Drive me home and let me put you up for the night. You can telephone or wire to your landlady. Please do." Peggy let in the clutch and sent the car on slowly down the hill.

"It's kind of you, Miss Rivers, but I have nothing with me."

"I can lend you anything you want. And I'm all alone so there's no need to dress for dinner."

"Then I'll come with pleasure," Peggy said frankly.

Miss Rivers' house, Alderley, was on the opposite hill. It was not so large as Hound Court, but a far pleasanter place.

"It belonged to an architect who built it himself," Miss Rivers told Peggy. "He died and I took it over with all the furniture and pictures."

Peggy was certain that Miss Rivers could never have furnished a room like this, with its delicate pastel shades, its dainty chair coverings and well chosen watercolors.

Miss Rivers did most of the talking as they sat in the drawing-room. She disclosed that she was now twenty-seven and mistress of a very large fortune, most of which had come to her from her father.

Dinner was simple but good, and the waiting was done by a competent, middle-aged maid named Parker. It was the first meal of its kind that Peggy had seen since leaving Coombe Royal, and she frankly enjoyed the deft waiting, the fine silver and glass and quantities of well-arranged flowers. Flowers, it appeared, were the one hobby of her hostess.

They had coffee in the drawing-room, served in Sèvres cups. Again they talked. Peggy told about her early life and managed to avoid any mention of the last three years.

"You came to see Mrs. Reeves-Fareham about a post as companion, didn't you, Miss Fletcher?"

"I did," Peggy told the circumstances, and of her disappointment, but Mrs. Fareham was going abroad.

"Then you are still looking for a post?" said Miss Rivers at last.

"I am," Peggy answered. "I have to earn my living." The other leaned forward.

"Would you come to me?" she asked. "Mary Berry, my personal maid, is leaving to get married. I am not suggesting you should take her place, Miss Fletcher. Please don't think that."

"I wouldn't mind," said Peggy, with a smile.

"No, no! My idea is this, that you should come here as my companion and to drive my cars. I should feel safe with you and—and, you see, I like you, Miss Fletcher."

Peggy, for her part, liked Miss Rivers, and for that very reason it seemed to her hardly fair that she should accept this offer under a false name, and with a cloud hanging over her. Miss Rivers mistook her silence, and went straight to the question of salary. That was easily settled.

In spite of the comfort of a perfect room, Peggy lay awake that night for a long time. She was thinking of John Arkwright, wondering sadly how he was faring, and if she would ever see him again.

Cat Burglar.

OLIVE GLYDE was delighted to hear of Peggy's new post. Mrs. Ashe was equally pleased, but when she got Peggy into her sitting-room she said that she had news for her. "And news, I'm afraid, you won't like, Miss Peggy," she added, frowning. "Miss Isobel has got married again."

"Married? To whom?"

"It's that Mr. Mason you saw and told me about."

"Mason! Oh, but that's impossible, Mrs. Ashe."

"It's true, miss. It happened at the Register Office in Chelsea yesterday."

Peggy sadly felt that she had seen the last of Isobel and Isobel was her only near relation. She had no aunts or uncles, no cousins. But the tie between herself and her sister had never been close. The two had never seen much of one another and they looked on life from very different angles.

Peggy wrote to Mr. Meakin, telling him of her new post, and had a reply in which the old lawyer warmly congratulated her.

"John Arkwright is quite fit again," he went on. "He has got back to work. I am forwarding a letter for you which he has sent me." Peggy thrilled at sight of John's bold handwriting. She thrilled still more as she read this, her first real love letter. It was hard to believe that stolid, unromantic John Arkwright could have written it.

"I'm a one-girl man, Peggy," he ended. "If I have to wait for you as long as Jacob waited for Rachael I can do it. But it won't be as long as that. Somehow I'll get to the bottom of this cursed mystery. Take care of yourself, my dearest. Yours ever, John.

On Monday Peggy went to Alderley. Miss Rivers herself met her at the station.

"I told Gertrude Fareham that you were coming to me," she said. "And she was pleased."

"You will miss her, Miss Rivers."

"Dreadfully. She was my one real friend here."

Peggy soon found that this was literally true. Her new employer had "got off on the wrong foot." Her friends, or rather acquaintances were the wrong people altogether, and she did not know it. Many were impecunious flatterers who hang about wherever money may be touched.

The mischief of it was that Peggy could do nothing about it. As Ruth Fletcher she was forced to keep her lips closed and herself in the background as much as possible.

So far as her work went, it was child's play compared to what she had done at Coombe Royal until they moved to the old town house in Belgrave Square which Althea had mentioned during their first drive. Althea had had the place modernised. There was central heating, and excellent furniture, and Peggy found much to do.

They went to many theatres and films, and Althea danced a great deal. But Peggy flatly refused to go to places like The Green Lantern. She was desperately afraid of running into Edgar and Mrs. Jardine.

Althea Rivers had some good jewelry, the best piece being an emerald necklace worth a great deal of money. Peggy, who retained a vivid recollection of Chesham's attempt to seal Mrs. Trelawney's rubies, had urged her to get a modern safe. Meantime the jewelry was kept in a jewel case in a locked drawer of the dressing table.

One foggy night in November Althea had gone out to dance and Peggy was busy with household accounts at a writing table in the drawing room. Her fountain pen ran dry, there was no ink in the room and she got up intending to get some in the library.

Dinner had been cleared some time ago and the servants were all below stairs. There is seldom very much traffic in Belgrave Square and on this night of fog there was none. The house was as silent as a tomb—so silent that Peggy was able to hear a clinking sound which seemed to come from overhead.

It was faint but Peggy's hearing was exceptional, and she paused at the foot of the stairs, listening keenly.

It came again. Its very faintness was suspicious. Of course it might be one of the maids but there was no reason for any maid to be upstairs at this hour. Some stranger in the house—someone after Althea's necklace!

Peggy did not hesitate. She went straight upstairs. On the thick, soft stair carpet her light slippers made no sound, and her movement along the corridor above was equally silent. She stopped outside Althea's room and put her ear against the door. Suspicion changed to certainty. Someone was there.

Peggy paused. Her heart was beating rather fast. Her first impulse was to run back and call Cummings, the butler. But Cummings was old and stout. He would never face a burglar. All he would do would be to go out in search of a policeman. And what a chance of finding one—on a night like this!

There was a telephone, of course, but that would mean delay—delay enough to give the thief a chance to get away with the spoil. No, if the necklace was to be saved it was up to Peggy to save it.

Very cautiously she tried the door. It was locked. That she had expected. She had read somewhere that any burglar who knows his job first fastens on the inside door of the room where he is working. She paused for a moment and thought hard.

Althea's bedroom window faced the front of the house, and there was a balcony outside. It was almost impossible for the man to have entered the house by a door, so Peggy felt certain that he must be a cat burglar and that he had climbed to the balcony under cover of fog. If he left the same way the only way to catch him was to go outside and wait for him. A bit of a risk, to put it mildly, but Peggy was determined to save that necklace.

She turned quickly into her own room, got a torch, and was turning back to the door when she heard Althea's door open softly. She made a rush and reached the corridor just in time to flash her light in the face of the burglar.

The man was Leonard Mason, her sister Isobel's husband!


Peggy Compounds A Felony.

MASON, who had never set eyes on Peggy and had not the slightest idea of her identity, snatched his chance and pushed her violently aside and was away down the stairs. Wearing rubber-soled shoes, he went silently as a cat.

The force of the push sent Peggy staggering. She struck the door of her own room which was ajar. It flew open and she fell. By the time she had gained her feet Mason was in the hall below. Even so she ran down the stairs in pursuit, but she was too late. Mason had already opened the front door and vanished in the fog of a November night. Peggy noticed that he had waited long enough to close the door behind him. A cool customer, this, evidently a professional.

But Peggy was not defeated. She meant to get that necklace back, and she believed she could do it. She glanced at her wrist-watch. It was only half-past nine. She had at least two hours before Althea returned—probably more.

She listened a moment. No one in the house had been disturbed and all was quiet. She hurried back to her room, put on a long dark coat and a small hat, changed her shoes, picked up her bag in which was her latch key, ran down again, and let herself out.

The fog was turning to rain as she walked quickly in a westerly direction, looking for a taxi. Luck was with her. She found one almost at once and told the man to drive to St. Mark's Terrace. Here Peggy stopped him, got out, paid her fare and walked on to No. 73.

As she came near to the door of 73 she heard steps behind her—quick, light steps. With a great effort she refrained from looking round. A man passed her. There was no mistaking that sturdy figure and the quick stride in spite of the man's effort to lose himself in his big overcoat. Her heart leapt. This was Mason himself.

Yet Peggy let him pass. She waited until he stopped at the door of 73 and was putting his latch key in the lock, then came quickly up.

"I want to see you, Mr. Mason," she said calmly.

The man started sharply and turned. The light of a street lamp showed his face and Peggy saw fear in his eyes. But in a flash he had pulled himself together.

"Who are you? I don't know you."

"You saw me less than a quarter of an hour ago," Peggy told him.

She saw him stiffen, but he tried to bluff.

"You are mistaken. I have just come from my club."

"You have just come from 117 Belgrave Square," said Peggy sharply, "where you stole jewelry from Miss Rivers' bedroom, and where you knocked me down when I caught you."

Peggy saw him glance round quickly and knew what was in his mind.

"If you bolt I go straight to the nearest policeman," she announced in a voice that, even to herself, sounded unnaturally calm. "There's one at the corner. I passed him."

Leonard realised he was beaten.

"How do you know my name?" he asked.

"Never mind how. I've seen you before."

"Then what do you want me to do?"

"To give back what you have stolen. Do that at once and you can go."

To Peggy's amazement Leonard laughed.

"Come inside and I'll give you the case." His tone changed to one of friendliness. "It's too risky out here in the street." Peggy hesitated. "It's good goods," Leonard assured her. "I won't try anything. Give you my word."

"I'll take your word," said Peggy, and he opened the door and let her into the dingy passage. There he stopped and handed her the case.

"You've spoiled the best coup I've worked for months," he said, "but you're a good plucked 'un. I hope I didn't hurt you."

"You didn't hurt me," Peggy said. She paused. "Is it any use suggesting that you try some other and more lawful profession?"

"Not a bit," replied Leonard. "It's too late." He held the door open for her and she went straight out into the street.

The whole episode was so amazing, and her audacity had so strained her nerves that she felt oddly shaken, and hardly able to walk. She looked round for a taxi, but taxi drivers don't find many customers in St. Mark's Terrace, and rarely go that way.

In the end she had to walk the whole way home and, by the time she got there she was at the verge of exhaustion. She went straight to the dining-room, where the sherry decanter gleamed invitingly as she switched on the light.

She filled a glass with sherry but, before she could lift it to her lips the room began to spin round her. All went black and she tumbled flat on the floor.

When she came back to her senses Althea was on her knees beside her, dabbing her face with a handkerchief wet with eau-de-Cologne. And Althea looked more frightened than Peggy had ever known her.

"Oh, my dear, what has happened?" Althea asked. Peggy managed a smile.

"Don't be frightened. It's nothing. Let me get into a chair and I'll tell you."

"But I must send for a doctor."

"Don't dream of it," Peggy said. "I mean it, Althea. I give you my word I'm not ill. I was a little overdone and fainted." She sat up and, with Althea's help, got into a chair. "Now if you'll give me that glass of sherry I'll tell you just what happened."

She sat silent for a few minutes sipping the wine, and soon felt a little better. She pointed to the jewel case which Althea had picked up and put on the table.

"I heard a noise upstairs," she said, "and went up to see. Your door was locked on the inside so I was sure it was a burglar and that he must have climbed in over the balcony. I thought of the telephone, but felt sure the police wouldn't get here in time. So I decided to go out on to the balcony by the window of the other front room and catch him before he could get away."

"But it was an awful risk!" put in Althea, wide-eyed. Peggy smiled.

"I was too anxious about your necklace to think of that. I went into my room to get a torch and just then the man unlocked your door and came out that way. I ran after him and caught him outside. I gave him the choice, to give up the necklace and go free, or I'd call the police. You see, if he once got away I thought very likely the police would never catch him, or at any rate wouldn't get back the emeralds."

"He caved in. He handed over the necklace and went off. Then I came back. But I suppose I got a bit excited and, like a fool, I fainted. I hope you don't mind about my letting him go."

"Mind! My dear. I think you were perfectly marvellous. It makes me shiver to think of the risk you took. And my emeralds. I would have been really sad if I had lost them. Dad gave them to me on my twenty-first birthday. They are insured for three thousand pounds. Now, Ruth, you must get to bed. And I really think I should ring up a doctor."

"Please don't. A night's sleep will put me all right."

"Then I'll help you to bed, Ruth."

Edgar Reappears.

PEGGY was not to get off so cheaply as she had hoped and expected. She slept poorly and woke next morning with a really bad cold, which had been on her before her adventure. This time Althea insisted on sending for the doctor, but, before he came, Peggy made Althea promise not to say anything about the burglar.

"You'd get me into trouble," she explained, "You see, I had no business to let the burglar go. The police would make a great fuss about it. I'm afraid."

Althea promised, the doctor came and ordered Peggy to stay in bed, saying he suspected influenza.

Peggy hated staying in bed. It gave her too much time to think, and it was not pleasant to realise that she had a burglar for brother-in-law.

When the doctor came next day Peggy begged to be allowed to get up, because Althea had a dinner party that evening, but he would not hear of it.

That afternoon Althea came to Peggy's room and assured her that she need not worry about the dinner. Then Althea took a morocco case from her handbag and gave it to Peggy.

"Just a little remembrance for saving my necklace, Ruth," she said.

Peggy opened it, and found a most exquisite necklet, a delicate gold chain from which hung a pendant set with fine pearls.

Peggy was breathless. She adored pearls but had never owned or dreamed of owning any real ones.

"Oh, Althea, you are too kind," she breathed. "These are far too good for me."

"Nothing is too good for you, Ruth. I don't know what I should do without you," Althea answered quickly.

Peggy lay back on her pillows, feeling greatly cheered and comforted, and by evening she felt sufficiently better to take up a novel which soon captured her interest. Althea was taking her guests to the theatre and Peggy heard them leave. Still she went on reading until with a shock she heard the little silver clock on her chimney-piece chime twelve. A minute later she heard the front door open. Althea was back and Althea would like to have a chat before turning in. Peggy got up, slipped on a dressing gown and opened her door so as to let Althea know, when she came upstairs, that the invalid was still awake.

People were talking in the hall. Althea was speaking.

"You'll have a drink before you go, Mr. Trelawney."

"Thanks. I'll be glad of one," came the reply.

Peggy's heart gave a thump. She felt suddenly weak and crept back to her bed.

A little later, when her guests had left, Althea came to Peggy, reproaching her for being still awake. She stood chatting about the party and her guests, and of a little group of people she had met afterwards at the Green Lantern. "One of them drove me home. He's a Mr. Trelawney. He has a big place in Devonshire. I rather like him, Ruth."

Peggy had a dreadful, sinking sensation. Presently Althea noticed how white she was.

"I'm keeping you awake. Go to sleep and you'll be better in the morning."

Go to sleep! Peggy felt as if she would never sleep again.

The next day was bright and sunny and Peggy was at last allowed to leave the house. Althea wanted to take her for a drive, but Peggy was able to persuade her and to pursue her own plan. So Althea had a taxi called and Peggy drove off. Once started she gave the driver new orders, and in fifteen minutes she was pouring out her heart to Olive.

"I shall have to leave," she ended unhappily. "There's nothing else for it."

"I think it's the worst thing you could do," Olive answered with decision. "And a bit shabby, too, Ruth. It's plain that Althea Rivers is fond of you and relies on you, yet you talk of going off and leaving her to this Trelawney man. It's up to you to try and save her from him and you can't do that unless you're on the spot."

"But he is bound to recognise me," Peggy said, "and then what good can I do?"

"You're wrong. It's only the things I advised: you've changed more than you know in the past months. You are older, more mature. Even your voice has altered. Mrs. Jardine might spot you, but not Edgar Trelawney. You could safely dine with him at the same table. Trust me, Ruth. I know what I'm saying."

Peggy felt a little comforted.

"There's another point you seem to have forgotten, Ruth," she continued. "You and Miss Rivers are going abroad. You'll be clear of Edgar for at least a couple of months. I don't suppose he'll follow you."

Peggy brightened.

"But I wish you'd find some decent man who might interest Althea."

"That's an idea. We might collect Alan Ensworth. He's quite presentable and has a bit of money."

A Name To Make News.

WHEN Peggy's father had taken her to Switzerland for a Christmas holiday, Peggy had never forgotten that fortnight, and her description of the powder snow, the clean, cold air, the brilliant sunshine, fired Althea imagination.

Althea had never been to Switzerland. Now she was keen as possible, and busy days were spent in getting the kit for winter sports. Busy as she was, Althea found time to dance at nights, and thus Peggy found herself again at the Green Lantern.

She was not a bit happy at that experience. She looked round for Edgar, but he was not there. Then Alan Ensworth came up. Peggy drew him aside and asked him not to mention that he had seen her there before. He grinned.

"Olive has told me that already. All right, Miss Fletcher. I don't know what it's all about, but mum's the word."

"Some day I'll explain," Peggy said. "Now I want to introduce you to Miss Rivers."

"Right, and afterwards you'll give me a dance. I haven't forgotten the way we floated round, that night when you were last here."

Peggy laughed and took Alan across to Althea. He asked her to dance, and Peggy watched them with satisfaction.

Presently Althea was claimed by another man, and Alan came back to Peggy. It was ages since Peggy had danced. Alan was a perfect partner, and she gave herself up to the joy of the waltz.

"That was even better than our last effort," Alan declared, when at last the music stopped and they found chairs at the far end of the room.

"I enjoyed it," Peggy said simply.

"Me, too. How are you getting on with Miss Rivers?"

"I'm very happy with her. No one could be kinder."

"I'm sure she's a good sort, but I wish she wouldn't dance with that bounder, Trelawney." Peggy looked up quickly and saw Althea passing, in the arms of Edgar. She shivered slightly. Alan pursed his lips.

"Looks as if you don't like him any better than I do."

"I don't believe I do," Peggy said, "but he has only once been to Belgrave Square. What's wrong with him?"

"Everything!" replied Alan bluntly. "Men loathe him, but he seems to fascinate woman. The rum thing is, he's a man of good family, and has a place in Devonshire, but—between ourselves—I think he's a crook."

"What makes you think that?"

"Lots of things. In the first place his old mother got poisoned and at the inquest he accused her companion of giving her a double dose of sleeping draught. He hinted she'd done it on purpose because the girl had been left an annuity, but any fool could see it was just spite on his part. He had to resign from one club after that. No member would speak to him." Edgar came past again and Alan gave him a scowl. He went on.

"Almost before his mother was cold in her grave he was running round with that Jardine woman. She's devilish good-looking, but as for her reputation—the stories told of her would scorch your ears. She kept him in tow until he'd spent all he could raise, then turned him down cold." Peggy shivered, but the news about Mrs. Jardine interested her.

"I've seen her. I can believe anything you say about her. As for Mr. Trelawney, I hate to see Miss Rivers dancing with him. However, we're going to Switzerland and I shall keep her away as long as I can."

"Jolly wise of you. Where are you going?"

"Pontresina. I was there years ago with my father and I loved it."

"Don't blame you. It's topping. I love that long valley coming down from the Rosegg Glacier. Fine skiing, too."

"Oh, you know it?"

"You bet I know it. I've been there in summer and winter. I've climbed Pitz Palu, Bellavista and Bernina. I generally go out in January for the winter sports."

"Why not come with us?" Peggy suggested. "But perhaps you won't want to be bothered with a couple of women."

"What rot! I love company—good company," he added, looking at Peggy. "When are you going?"

"January the fifth. We're staying at the Kaiserhof."

"It's a good pub. All right, if I can get a room there I'll come along. I'll write at once, and as soon as I hear I'll let you know. Now let's have another turn."

"He told me he was going to Switzerland," Peggy said to Althea, as they discussed Ensworth on the drive home. "I suggested he might come with us. You don't mind, Althea?"

"A splendid idea. He's a nice man, too. How did you come to know him?"

"A Miss Glyde who lives at my old lodgings at Lower Chester Terrace introduced us."

Althea nodded.

"It's a pity we couldn't get Mr. Trelawney to make up our party." she remarked, thoughtfully. "But he's going down to his place in Devonshire in January."

"What luck!" thought Peggy with an inward shiver.

Althea gave a dinner on Christmas Eve and sent Edgar an invitation, which was accepted. Peggy was horribly nervous, but it was a large party, and she contrived to be very much in the background—a woman with duties to do. It was clear that he had no suspicion of her real identity, but she sighed with relief when at last it was over and she was able to get to bed.

It was three days afterwards that Peggy, breakfasting alone, read the first newspapers she had seen for two days. A headline took her eye, because it contained the words, "Cat Burglar." She began to read.

It concerned a burglary at Wimbledon on Christmas Eve, in which the intruder was caught by the son of the house. He heard the thief at work on the first floor, got up, and wedged the door of the room in which the man was busy, then telephoned for the police.

"The arrested man gave the name Johnson, but the police believed he is Leonard Mason, who is wanted in connection with several suspected robberies."

Isobel's Ordeal.

WITHIN an hour of reading the news of Leonard Mason's arrest, Peggy was knocking at the door of her sister's flat. Isobel opened it. She looked suspiciously at Peggy.

"Who are you please—and what do you want?" she echoed. It was a shock to find that her own sister did not recognise her.

* * * * *

"IT was bound to come," said Isobel later, after a storm of tears. "I begged him to go back to his old business, but he wouldn't, and now—" Another sob shook her.

"And now," said Peggy, "we have to make the best of a bad job. What do you want to do, Isobel—to leave him?"

Isobel stiffened.

"No, no! He's my husband. He has always been good to me. I love him. I'll manage somehow. You'd better go away, Peggy. It was good of you to come, but you can't do anything." Peggy's answer was to kiss her sister again. Isobel had had a bitter lesson, but she had taken it to heart.

"I can do quite a lot—at least, I can try," said Peggy, with determination.

"You had no idea what he was when you married him, Isobel?" said Peggy when her sister became normal again and showed a desire to talk of her husband.

"Of course not. I believed he was a motor salesman—he was once. Then he got into trouble over a stolen car. I don't know much about it, but I don't think it was his fault. But he lost his job. Somehow, he fell in with a bad lot." Again she stopped and drew a long breath. "Peggy, I've done all I knew to make him stop. But all he says is that he can't see me starve. I'm afraid the police have a great deal against him, but he isn't really bad," she ended earnestly.

"I'm sure he isn't," Peggy said comfortingly, "but now we have to face facts." And thus Peggy steered the talk to helpful conclusions.

Peggy's own eyes were misty as she found her way down into the street—but they were happy tears. Isobel, whom she had lost was found—she had a sister again.

At Sloane-street she rang up Mr. Meakin and made an appointment.

She found the old lawyer in his first floor office, a beautiful room with fine oak beams. He chaffed her about her changed appearance, but they soon came to business, and Peggy told the whole story.

"I read the case," said Mr. Meakin. "There's not the faintest hope of getting Mason off, but counsel might get a sentence of three years instead of five. I'll instruct young Gifford. His fee will not be extortionate. Can you run five guineas, Peggy."

"Of course. And you are kind." He smiled.

Tell me about yourself, Peggy."

It was a relief to become Peggy Garland for a while, to talk without having to think of every word you said—above all to get news of John Arkwright. Peggy told Mr. Meakin of the reappearance of Edgar and, for the first time since she had known him, saw her old friend really angry.

"The man is hopeless," he said sternly. "Of course he is looking for a rich wife and, if he finds one, her money will go down the sink with the rest."

Alpine Proposal.

"TO-DAY it's snowing," Peggy wrote to Olive from Pontresina. "A thin fine powder resembling frozen sand, not a bit like the big soft flakes we get at home. But this is the first snowy day since we came. Most of the time there his been glorious sunshine and hard frost. Althea is enjoying it and I never felt more fit.

"Alan is a brick and has been kindness itself to us both. My chief trouble is that he and Althea though excellent friends, don't fall for one another. At present I spend my time collecting any men who seem nice to introduce to her. I have become quite shameless!"

She posted her note, and in their sitting-room found Althea reading a letter. Althea looked up and Peggy saw at once that she was excited.

"I've heard from Edgar Trelawney, Ruth. He says he's coming here. He'll arrive on Saturday."

The shock was so great that Peggy could not help showing it.

"What's the matter?" Althea demanded, and for once her tone was tart. Peggy hesitated and Althea went on. "You don't like him, Ruth?"

"I'm not going to lie to you, Althea. I don't."

"Why not? You don't know anything about him."

"I do. Miss Glyde told me he had been mixed up with that Mrs. Jardine and you know as well as I what her reputation is."

Althea frowned.

"That's just gossip."

"It's true Althea. I've seen them together. And Mrs. Jardine gives me cold chills."

"I like Edgar Trelawney," Althea retorted. "He has always been nice to me. When he comes I shall ask him about Mrs. Jardine."

"You don't expect him to tell you the truth, do you?" said Peggy. Althea flared up.

"Why not. Just because you don't happen to like him you believe any nasty story you hear about him. I never dreamed you could be so unfair."

Peggy was silent. She simply did not dare to speak. If she once started she felt she might not be able to stop. She turned and went out of the room and did not see Althea again till lunch at which they scarcely spoke.

She had an appointment to go skiing with Alan, and soon the two were zig-zagging steadily up the long slopes among the pine trees. The sun had come out and the while glare was dazzling yet very beautiful.

They were far up the valley when Alan pulled up at the head of a steep slope. Close above them was an enormous rock. Alan pointed to it.

"The Monk's Head," he said. Peggy looked. The resemblance was perfect, but terrible.

"Let's get away," Peggy said. "I can't bear the sight of it. I feel it will bring me bad luck." Alan nodded.

"I was going to turn, anyhow. Clouds are forming again over the Sella. There'll be more snow. But there's no hurry. Tell me what's the trouble with Althea."

"She has heard from Edgar Trelawney. He will be here on Saturday."

Alan swore. "That blighter coming. Then I'm going home." He turned sharply to Peggy, and the look on his face startled her.

"Ruth," he said sharply, "you can't stay either. Listen! Leave Althea. Come with me. Marry me. I've been in love with you ever since we first met."

The shock was so great it left Peggy speechless. Alan went on:

"I have some money. I'll be good to you, Ruth. I—" She held up her hand.

"I can't, Alan." Flushed and distressed, she looked so lovely that Alan flung out his arms. She moved away.

"I can't, Alan," she repeated. "I like you very much. You've been the best of friends, but—"

"There's someone else," said Alan.

Peggy bowed her head.

"There is. Oh, Alan, I'm so sorry." Alan braced himself.

"It's all right, my dear. It's not your fault. You're no flirt—never were." He saw the tears in her eyes. "Don't be sad. I'll help you any way I can."

"You are the kindest man, Alan," Peggy said brokenly. The tears were now on her cheeks. "If I'd only known! But I never dreamed you were serious. I—I hoped you were fond of Althea."

Alan answered with a harsh laugh. "I didn't care for her. She's in love with this fellow Trelawney, and I don't know what can be done about it. He's after her for her money. The fellow couldn't love anyone but himself." He glanced round. "Those clouds are rising fast. We'd better shove along if we don't want to be caught. We're a long way from the hotel."

The sunlight had gone, the sky was grey again and presently the air became misty with tiny ice particles. Alan quickened his pace. He did not speak, but Peggy had a feeling that he was anxious. The mist thickened. The flakes grew thicker; they stung her cheeks. The horizon drew in. A tree loomed ahead, dim in the white fog. Alan kept to the right, but Peggy, who had fallen a little behind, swung left. She found herself dropping into a hollow which she had not seen.

Instead of letting herself go, she tried to swerve. The point of her right ski drove deep into the snow and over she went. An agonising pain shot through her right ankle and she lay helpless, half-buried, at the bottom of the hollow.

In a moment Alan was bending over her.

"Hurt, Ruth?" he asked quickly.

"My right ankle," Peggy replied faintly.

Very quickly he had her skis off. He laid them together and lifted her upon them. Gentle as he was, the movement brought a little gasp from her lips.

"Is it broken?" Alan asked anxiously.

"I don't know. I don't think so. Oh, Alan, I am sorry."

"Don't worry. There's a patrol not far away. We passed the post on the way up. I'll find him. But I'll have to leave you a few minutes. Do you mind?"

"Of course not. Go ahead. I shall be all right."

He hurried off and almost at once vanished in the thickly falling snow. Peggy lay very still. The pain was nothing to the fear and dismay she felt. She began to wonder what would happen if Alan failed to find the patrol, or if he himself lost his way. In this temperature she would not last long.

A shout came faintly, muffled by the snow. Peggy shouted back. Two figures loomed through the white fog. They were Alan and a sturdy young Swiss. The latter was pulling a hand sledge. Alan was breathing hard.

"I couldn't find him," he panted. "Are you frozen, Ruth?"

"Not yet," said Peggy, forcing a smile.

They lifted her on to the sledge and wrapped her in a warm rug. The patrol picked up a rope attached to the front of the sledge. Alan took the handles at the back, and they started for the hotel. An hour later Peggy was in bed, and the doctor was examining her ankle.

"No bones broken," he said, "but a severe sprain. You will not be able to put your foot to the ground for at least two weeks."

He gave her an opiate. But for that Peggy would have had little sleep that night.

The Scale Turns.

ALTHEA was kindness itself. Even after Edgar came she still spent much time in Peggy's room. Nothing that money could do for Peggy was left undone.

Alan stayed until the following Tuesday; then he had a violent row with Edgar. After that there was nothing for it but to go. Before he left he came to say good-bye to Peggy.

"I'm not going to apologise," he said. "The fellow asked for it. All the same, it was a bad joss. He's playing the injured innocent and Althea is comforting him. It's a rotten world, Ruth."

"Not with people like you in it," Peggy said. "I only wish you'd knock his head off. Tell me, Alan, how are things between him and Althea? She knows I don't like him and never talks about him."

"Bad; you may expect the engagement to be announced any day."

Peggy was silent, but the look on her face wrung Alan's heart.

"Don't look like that, Ruth," he said sharply. "I can't stick it. Anyhow, there's no need for you to be so miserable. This man you spoke of—why don't you marry him?"

"I can't!" said Peggy in a small voice.

"What! Is he married already?"

"No!" Alan frowned.

"You mean he doesn't know?"

"He knows," said Peggy. "He'd marry me to-morrow if I'd let him."

Alan flung up his hands.

"You're crazy, Ruth."

"Near it!" Peggy said, grimly. "It's no good, Alan. I can't explain. But when I can you're the first person I'll tell." Alan shook his head.

"Ruth, I'm fonder of you than you know. If there's any blessed thing I can do for you, you've only to tell me."

Tears stood in Peggy's eyes.

"You're a dear, Alan. But there's not a thing you can do. You'd better go now—I'm going to cry." He bent over her and kissed her on the cheek.

"Good-bye, Ruth. You know where to find me. I'll come any time you want me." He turned and went quickly out of the room.

He was a true prophet. That same evening Althea came to see Peggy, and her face was so lit up, her eyes so bright, that Peggy's heart sank.

"Ruth," said Althea eagerly, "he's told me everything. He admitted he was fond of Mrs. Jardine. Then quite by chance he found that she was not a widow. Her husband was still alive. He asked her straight out if this was true, and she turned on him and demanded to know why he was spying on her. She was so violent that he left her. He told me that the scene killed all feeling for her. Then he met me and he says I attracted him at once. Now he has asked me to marry him, and oh, Ruth, I am so happy."

Peggy tried to speak but no words would come. She sat propped with pillows, gazing up at Althea with eyes full of misery.

"Aren't you going to congratulate me?" Althea asked.

"I can't. Oh, I can't," Peggy answered.

"But why, Ruth?" Althea questioned. If she had been angry it would have been easier for Peggy. As it was, she was at her wits' end how to answer.

"I can't make out why you are so prejudiced against Edgar," Althea went on. "You don't know him. You have hardly spoken to him. It's all very strange to me." She paused a moment, but, as Peggy did not speak, went on. "Edgar has faults. Even I can see that. But I love him. Nothing can change that."

It was true. Peggy saw it and knew at once that nothing she could say would have any effect. When a weak but obstinate woman like Althea takes the bit between her teeth there is no turning her.

A moment earlier Peggy had been on the point of blurting out the whole story. She would have sacrificed herself to save Althea. Now she realised that it was useless. The tale of Chesham's death she could not tell, though the fact of his being missing might reveal itself any day. Apart from that all that she could say was that Edgar was extravagant and selfish.

"You have been very good to me, Althea, and I would do anything to see you happy with Edgar Trelawney. Now you won't be needing me any longer—" Althea broke in.

"What nonsense!" I could not dream of parting with you."

"And yet I must go," Peggy insisted. "Edgar Trelawney would soon want to get rid of me even if you did not."

"Listen Ruth! He and I plan to go on a six months' cruise. Then we shall go to his place in Devonshire to live. I am sending most of my staff there, for Edgar, who seems to have been very extravagant, has got rid of his mother's servants."

"I want you to go down there, to Coombe Royal—that's the name of the place—and get everything ready. You will have plenty of time and plenty of help, and I shall of course give you a free hand."

Peggy drew a long breath. To be down at Coombe Royal again in her beloved Devonshire to be close to John Arkwright! Then the shield turned. No, the risk was impossible, she would be recognised. She shook her head.

"It only means putting off the evil day. Better to make the break at once."

"There's not going to be any break," said Althea with unusual firmness. "But now you are tired and excited so I'm not going to let you talk any more to-night. Good-night, my dear."

Peggy had no sleeping draught to help her that night. She lay and tossed miserably thinking and thinking but always coming to a blind end. Towards morning she dozed and waked to find a maid with her dainty breakfast.

There was a letter on the tray.

"Peggy, dear," Isobel wrote , "they have given him five years. The judge said it ought to have been seven.... I'm very miserable, Peggy, and longing to see you."

That letter turned the scale. Whatever happened, Isobel should not go short. When Althea came up an hour later Peggy told her that she would go to Coombe Royal. Althea's face lit up. She stooped and kissed Peggy.

"My dear, I knew you'd be sensible," she said.

Peggy Goes Back To Devon.

"DON'T fret, Peggy, you have done all you can. Now you must let things take their course." Mr. Meakin was speaking. He and Peggy were together to the lawyer's oak-panelled office.

Peggy did not speak. She lay back in her chair, looking worn and dispirited.

He went, on:

"Luckily I know Iredale, Miss Rivers' lawyer, and have had a talk with him. Utterly unprofessional, of course, but I have put him wise to Master Edgar, and he will see that Miss Rivers' capital is so tied up that her husband can't touch it."

"That won't help her," Peggy said.

"It will, my dear. Trelawney won't abuse his wife when he depends on her for pocket-money."

"I wouldn't trust him," Peggy answered. "He'll get money out of her somehow. Anyhow he will make her miserable."

"That, I am afraid, is only too likely. You must do your best to help her."

Peggy sat up straight.

"Then you think I am doing right to stay with her?"

"Very right."

"Its going to be pretty lonely down there at Coombe Royal," Peggy said. "I shall have to avoid all my old friends and—and John. I don't know whether I can stand it."

"True, my dear. On the other hand you will be on the spot. You may be able to discover something that will help to solve the mystery of Mrs. Trelawney's death."

Peggy shook her head.

"Edgar isn't likely to give himself away, and suppose he recognises me?"

Mr. Meakin looked up at Peggy.

"I should never recognise you for the girl you were a few months ago. The change goes deeper than the color of your hair and the style of your dress. You seem older, more mature and your manner, even your voice, has changed. If you are careful no one will recognise you and I think you will be too busy to be lonely."

"You are always comforting," said Peggy, trying to smile. She picked up her bag and rose to go. The lawyer went with her to the door.

"Have you seen your sister, Peggy?" he asked. Peggy brightened.

"I have and she has quite changed, Mr. Meakin"

"About time," said the other dryly. But Peggy smiled.

"There is good stuff in her, Mr. Meakin. And it's showing now."

"I'm glad."

* * * * *

THE daffodils in the untidy gardens of Coombe Royal were a blaze of yellow when Peggy, alone in Althea's small car steered up the familiar drive.

She was on the point of driving round to the garage when she remembered that she was not supposed to know the place, so she pulled up at the front door and rang. Althea's servants had gone down already, soon after the wedding, and she expected that one of them would answer the bell.

The door was opened by Rose Weller.

"Rose!" Peggy's lips formed the word, yet she just restrained herself from uttering it aloud. She saw Rose gazing at her, and with a violent effort she pulled herself together.

"I am Miss Fletcher," she said, "but you—you are not one of Mrs. Trelawney's staff?"

"My name is Rose Weller, Miss. I was maid to the late Mrs. Trelawney and was left as caretaker."

"I see," Peggy answered. "The others have arrived?"

"They are all here, Miss. Tea will be ready if you will come in."

"It was the strangest experience, to come back to the old house she knew so well and be forced to pretend that she was a stranger. Rose led the way upstairs and Peggy found that her old room had been prepared for her. The same bed, the same furniture and carpet, the same picture on the wall. After Rose left the room Peggy sat down in her chintz-covered armchair and did not move for some minutes.

Rose here! That made things even more difficult than she had anticipated. From what Althea had told her, she had thought that the only survivor of the old staff was Southcote, the lodge-keeper. He, being elderly and short-sighted, was not likely to recognise her, but Rose young and quick-eyed, was a very real danger, and Peggy realised that she would have to be very careful indeed.

Peggy had told Mr. Meakin that she would be lonely at the old house. But how lonely she had hardly realised. No one came to call on a "companion." The neighbors were waiting for the return of the new Mrs. Trelawney. For two weeks Peggy did not exchange a word with anyone except the servants. If it had not been for the work she felt she would have gone crazy. But there was much to do to prepare the house for Althea's return from the honeymoon. During the whole of this first fortnight she never put a foot outside the grounds.

There was one room in the house which she had not so far entered, the bedroom of old Mrs. Trelawney. At last she hardened her heart and opened the door.

The room was beautifully tidy and well aired, but the old furniture was still just as it had been on the day of the old lady's death. Even the bed-table, the one which Edgar had upset, stood in precisely the same spot. The picture, too, which hid the door of the old safe, hung exactly as Peggy remembered it. She went across and moved it, and saw that the old safe was still there.

From the door came a slight sound, and Peggy turned quickly to see Rose standing, wide-eyed, gazing at her. Rose stepped into the room and closed the door behind her.

"I thought all the time it was you, Miss Peggy. Now I'm sure."

For a moment Peggy could find no words. Rose went on:

"I can't think how you got back, Miss Peggy, now why you changed yourself like you have, but—oh, I'm so glad to see you."

There were tears in her eyes as she spoke, but it didn't need these to assure Peggy that the girl meant exactly what she had said.

No Choice.

PEGGY stepped across, put her hands on Rose's shoulders and kissed her cheek.

"I was afraid you would recognise me, Rose, but now you have, I'm glad. I've been very lonely, with no one to talk to. Now sit down and I'll tell you how it has come about that I'm back here at Coombe Royal."

Peggy could not have asked for a more sympathetic listener.

"Are you quite sure that you can keep this to yourself?" Peggy asked the astonished girl when the story was finished.

"Sure and certain, miss. I wouldn't even tell Father."

"Or Charles Perkins?" said Peggy with a smile. Rose flushed.

"Certainly not, miss."

"Well have another talk soon," Peggy said, as she opened the door and went out.

They did have other talks, and Peggy found Rose a great comfort. It was Rose who suggested that Peggy should go fishing again.

"Do go fishing," she said. "I know how you enjoy it."

That very night there was rain, and next morning dawned bright, with big soft clouds sailing across the blue. The sort of day that is a fisherman's dream, and the first thing Peggy did on getting up was to put a couple of casts to soak. By ten o'clock she was on the river. There is nothing like fishing to take your mind off your troubles—that is, if you are fond of it—and for the first time for weeks Peggy felt almost happy. It was a perfect spring morning. Water ouzels flitted from stone to stone, a living jewel which was a kingfisher flashed past her; a pair of sandpipers ran jerkily along a stretch of shingle; a water-rat sat up straight at the mouth of its hole, washing its face with its delicate paws; the long stickles sparkled in the sunshine, and the tawny pools under the high peaty banks were starred with the rises of feeding fish.

Peggy took many, but kept only the best. Even so, her creel was heavy when, a little after mid-day, she came within sight of the high-arched granite bridge which carries the old road to Okestock. To the right rose Hannaford Tor, its steep side scarred by the adits of an old and long-disused tin mine. Beneath this was an immense dump of reddish earth and rock dug from the bowels of the tor, and at the foot of the dump the old mine-house now in ruins. Up here the breeze was cool and Peggy decided that the sunny side of the mine house would be a capital spot for a rest and lunch. Just tired enough to enjoy a rest, she lunched off the sandwiches and coffee she had brought, and having finished, lit a cigarette.

"Toto! Toto!"

The call came from far up the hillside, the voice was that of a woman calling a dog which, perhaps had gone into the mine—probably after a rabbit. Peggy strode up the hillside in the direction of the adit. She could not see the mouth of the adit, or the dog-owner, for both were hidden by a projecting shoulder of the tor. When at last the woman came into view, Peggy recognised at once Mrs. Jardine.

Peggy's first impulse to bolt but, before she could turn, Mrs. Jardine had seen her.

"Oh, do help me," she called. "My dog has gone into the mine, and it's all dark, and I can't find him."

There was no choice—none at all. Peggy walked towards the woman of whom she more afraid than of any creature on earth.

"It was a rabbit," Mrs. Jardine said quickly as Peggy came up. "Toto went in after it. I've called and called. I've even been into this dreadful place, but I can't see or hear him."

"I'll try," said Peggy with a calmness which surprised herself, and walked straight into the mine.

At best the adit of a tin mine is a nasty place. This adit, unused for half a century, was not only low-roofed but dangerous, from rotted props. The floor was mud, deep, sticky, reddish mud in which Peggy stuck and slid.

Peggy went in as far as her eyes would serve her, then stopped and fell for her match-box which was in a pocket of her light fishing jacket. She heard a thump behind her. A stone had fallen from the rotted roof. A horrible idea flashed through her brain and left her rigid. Had Mrs. Jardine recognised her or somehow known that she was at Coombe Royal and was this a plot to get rid of her? With fingers that shook a little she struck a match and at once saw marks of small paws in the mud at her feet. She gave a short laugh.

"Peggy, you've got the wind up properly," she said to herself and, holding the match high, pushed on. A second match brought her to a rockfall which lay waist high all across the passage. She struck a third match and looked over.

There was the dog a Pekinese, standing facing her. Somehow it had scrambled over the fall but had been unable to get back.

Peggy glanced up uncomfortably at the yawning gap in the roof from which the stones had fallen. It looked as if a mere touch would bring down another ton or two. It was no use funking it. She began to climb over, no easy task, for the rocks were wet and slippery and she had to use one hand to hold a match. Somehow she managed it and stooped to pick up the dog.

The ungrateful little brute snarled and snapped at her. Peggy grasped him by the scruff of the neck, lifted him, slung him over not too gently, then followed. So far she had managed excellently, now luck deserted her. Her foot slipped, over she went and the spasm of pain that ran like an electric shock through her ankle made her feel sick. It was the ankle she had sprained in Switzerland and now it had gone again.

"It Was All A Trick!"

THIS time there was no one to help Peggy. Somehow she scrambled up and, sitting on a stone, took off her shoe and tied a handkerchief as firmly as possible round the ankle. Then, holding to the rotting mine timbers, she hobbled slowly out of the adit. Once in the open she dropped on the turf. She was very near to fainting.

"You're hurt!" she heard Mrs. Jardine say.

"My ankle," Peggy managed to answer.

The other woman was no fool. She had the shoe and stocking off at once, and taking off her scarf made a good job of bandaging the damaged ankle.

"My car is on the road," she said. "If you can get as far I will drive you home."

"Thank you," Peggy said, "My name is Fletcher. I am Miss River's—I mean Mrs. Trelawney's—companion. If I can get to Coombe Royal I shall be all right."

The distance to the road was not more than a couple of hundred yards and all downhill, but to Peggy the journey was an endless nightmare. Not that Mrs. Jardine was any weakling. Peggy, strong herself, was amazed at the power of the other. Slight as Mrs. Jardine seemed, her muscles were of steel and she knew how to use them.

But for Peggy the repulsion she had always felt for Mrs. Jardine was doubled by the contact and, when you add to that, the intense pain she was suffering, it is not hard to understand the misery of that short walk.

Arrived at last at the road, Mrs. Jardine left Peggy sitting on the grassy verge and went to fetch the car which was in the hollow below. She brought it up, turned it skilfully and helped Peggy in. She put Toto on the peat beside her, started the car and drove slowly back towards Coombe Royal. Peggy lay back with her eyes closed, biting her lip to keep herself from groaning.

Soon she felt the car slowing, and then Mrs. Jardine spoke:

"Here is Dr. Arkwright Miss Fletcher. Shall I ask him to call and see to the ankle?"

Peggy opened her eyes. Here was John Arkwright, striding up the slope towards them, not twenty yards away. In the brilliant sunlight his face was sharp and clear and Peggy's heart gave a jump that almost choked her as she saw how much older he looked than when she had last seen him. For the moment she could not speak, could not do any thing but stare at him.

The car was stopping. Mrs. Jardine was looking round at her. Peggy saw, or thought she saw suspicion in her eyes.

"No, don't stop," Peggy said in a strangled voice. "I know exactly what to do. I don't need a doctor."

Without a word Mrs. Jardine sent the car on again. For an instant Arkwright's eyes were on the car. He raised his hat to Mrs. Jardine but his face was grim. Then the car passed and he was out of sight. Mrs. Jardine gave a little laugh.

"A bit of a boor, that young man," she observed.

At Coombe Royal the butler and Rose lifted Peggy out, and Mrs. Jardine left with polite expressions of thanks over the rescue of the dog.

"Take me to my room, please," Peggy said, and they carried her upstairs. There the butler left her to Rose.

Plainly Rose was bursting with curiosity yet to her credit did not ask a single question. She got Peggy to bed and very gently took the bandage off the damaged ankle. She shook her head.

"It's badly swollen, Miss. You ought to have a doctor."

"I know exactly what to do," Peggy told her. "Get some very hot water."

Rose fetched it and, while she fomented the injured joint, Peggy told her what had happened.

"So that was the way of it," said the girl. "I thought she'd be up to some of her tricks." Peggy stared. She had never heard the gentle-voiced Rose speak in such a tone.

"What do you mean, Rose?"

"I mean it was all a trick, Miss Peggy. She saw you fishing and she put that dog in the mine just to make you go after it." Peggy had an unpleasant, sinking feeling.

"You mean that she recognised me?" Rose looked at her gravely.

"I can't say that for certain, but I think it's likely. That lady's got eyes like a cat and she's just as inquisitive."

Peggy shook her head.

"This is bad, Rose. If she has recognized me she may tell Mr. Trelawney."

"I'm sure I hope she hasn't," Rose said earnestly. "But it's a long time still before they come home, and she can't do any harm till then. Don't you worry, Miss Peggy. I've a feeling it will all come right."

For the next few days Peggy lay in bed, surrounded by every comfort. The cook sent her up perfect little meals, the chauffeur fetched books for her from Taverton, the gardener kept her room fragrant with flowers. All this was comforting, yet Peggy was very unhappy. It was not so much the fear that Mrs. Jardine had recognised her; what worried her most was the knowledge of how greatly John Arkwright was suffering. One glimpse of his face had told her much.

Almost she weakened but not quite. She compromised by writing a short letter to him, which she sent to Mr. Meakin, with the request that he would post it from London.

The second sprain was not so severe as the first one, but even so a fortnight passed before Peggy was about again.

One morning Rose brought the morning paper to Peggy as she was eating an early breakfast.

"Oh, Miss, there's been trouble up at the prison," she said, "Some convicts set on a warder and nearly killed him. The postman told me. He says it's all in the paper."

Peggy opened the paper at once, and the first thing that caught her eyes was a heading:



"Discontent, of which rumours have been rife for some time past, culminated in a sudden and ferocious attack upon Warder Calderon, who was in charge of one of the parties on the Dartmoor Prison Farm. The warder was attacked by three men at once and knocked down by a fearful blow on the head from a shovel. He would undoubtedly been killed but for the bravery of a fourth prisoner, who rushed to his assistance and fought off his assailants. In the course of the struggle this man, too, was severely injured.

"His name is Leonard Mason, and he is serving a five year sentence for burglary. Warder Calderon was still unconscious at midnight. Mason, who is in the Prison Infirmary, has a broken arm and other injuries, but is said to be doing as well as can be expected."

Peggy drew a long breath.

"Isobel was right after all," she said. "There's good stuff in that husband of hers."

With A Deadly Beauty.

PEGGY stood by the bed where Isobel lay, with her baby in the curve of her arm.

"He a fine boy, Isobel," she said softly."

"He'd have had no mother if it hadn't been for you, Peggy," Isobel answered.

Her eyes were full of gratitude as she gazed up at her sister.

Her words were true. If Peggy hod not rushed up from Devonshire and brought in a specialist, Isobel would certainly have died. The specialist's fee had left Peggy almost penniless, but Isobel was safe, which was all that mattered.

"Oh, if only all this dreadful business could be cleared up how happy I should be."

"Good-bye, Isobel. I must not wait or I may lose my train. Althea comes back to-morrow."

Isobel's thin arms closed round Peggy's neck. She kissed her fondly but could not speak. Next minute Peggy was on her way down to her waiting cab.

Althea arrived home. Edgar, she said, was staying in London for a few days to transact some business.

Over tea the two talked. Peggy told of her visit to London, but merely said that she had gone to see a friend, who was ill. She had never mentioned Isobel to Althea, and did not mean to do. Althea told of her travels, and how she had enjoyed seeing India and the East.

She was quite cheerful, and Peggy gathered that Edgar had been behaving himself. But she was careful not to ask any questions. Althea noticed this. She laughed.

"So you see, Ruth," she said, "you'll have to admit you were wrong about Edgar. He has been kindness Itself."

"I'm very glad," said Peggy gravely.

Tea over, Althea wanted to see the gardens in their midsummer glory, and the two went out together.

"I feel I'm going to be happy here," said Althea.

"I do hope you will be," Peggy said fervently, but at the back of her mind was always the face of Mrs. Jardine, beautiful with deadly beauty. She wondered how long it would be before that woman's greedy fingers marred Althea's dream.

She had not long to wait. Two days later Edgar arrived, and two days after that Mrs. Jardine called. She didn't see Althea, for Althea was in bed in a darkened room, suffering from migraine. Edgar, however, was on deck, and out of the window Peggy saw him giving the visitor tea under the big copper beech on the lawn, and the two were talking eagerly.

Even now Peggy had no knowledge as to whether Mrs. Jardine had recognised her or not. She had never spoken to the woman since that day when she had brought Toto out of the mine.

Peggy watched for a long time. Mrs. Jardine was wearing a pale green summer frock, and was, as usual, perfectly turned out. Edgar hung on every word the woman said. Clearly, he was just as much under her spell as ever he had been. Presently they got up and strolled away, then Rose came to say that Dr. Cray was there to see Mrs. Trelawney.

Cray had been called in by Edgar, who had refused to let John Arkwright attend his wife, and had set Althea against him by telling her that it was his fault that his mother had died. Edgar could lie convincingly when occasion arose.

Althea soon recovered and told Peggy that she must return the call.

"I know you dislike her," she said to Peggy, "and I don't think I shall like her myself. Still she is a neighbor and a tenant of Edgar's and one must be civil. I shall just leave cards."

So that afternoon they set off, Peggy as usual driving. Peggy hoped devoutly that Mrs. Jardine would be out, but in that she was unlucky. Mrs. Jardine was in the garden, bare-armed, picking roses, with the dog at her heels. When she saw her visitors, she came towards them, all smiles, and insisted on their coming in. She ordered tea, which was brought by her foreign maid, and laid herself out to captivate Althea. She was civil, too, to Peggy, complimenting her on the way in which she had brought round Coombe Royal.

"The garden was a wreck six months ago," she said. "I was amazed at the change when I called last week. Miss Fletcher must have worked hard."

Althea was pleased at this praise of Peggy. She began to drop her reserve and talk more freely. Peggy sitting helplessly by, realised that Althea was falling under her spell. When, at last they drove away she turned to Peggy.

"Mrs Jardine is charming," she said. "I don't wonder Edgar fell for her."

Peggy bit her lip and managed to keep silent. There was no need to talk, for Althea babbled on happily all the way home.

Many people called and Althea gave a big garden party. In August things quietened down, and Althea took to driving about the country. The great spaces of the open moor appealed to her. Often she and Peggy took a tea basket and picnicked in some chosen spot. They always took Althea's small car, which could be driven over stormy tracks and through narrow lanes.

Edgar never offered to come with them. He was polite to Althea, but Peggy could see plainly that he had not the slightest feeling for her. Peggy knew, too, that he saw much more of Mrs. Jardine than Althea ever suspected. Peggy herself kept clear of him as much as possible. When they met he was perfectly civil and gave no sign that he knew her as anything but his wife's companion. Peggy herself had become so much Ruth Fletcher that there was little risk of betraying her real identity.

The Firing Of Furzy Brake.

A FAVORITE spot with Althea was Furzy Brake under Wild Tor. It was two miles from the house and on Coombe Royal property. On the moor the heather and gorse are so constantly "swaled"—that is burnt to advance the spring grazing—it is rare to find gorse more than waist high. Furzy Brake had never been burned within memory of man and the gorse was enormous. It stood eight feet high, was a famous fox covert and full or wild life.

Like all such coverts there were winding ways through it and, even on a winter day, if the sun was out, it was always easy to find a spot to sit, sheltered from the wind.

Early in September came a day of strong sun and high wind. Too much wind for the exposed moor, so it was natural that Althea and Peggy decided on Furzy Brake as the ideal spot for a tea picnic. They left the car just inside the gate and Peggy carried the basket.

The wind whipped their skirts around their legs, but the moment they had passed into the gorse, the air was calm.

They found a small open space. Peggy unpacked the basket, lit a tiny spirit stove and put on the kettle.

Overhead white clouds flew before the wind, their shadows dappling the sunshine, but in this little glade the warm air was still and full of the honey-like scent of gorse blooms. Bees were busy and linnets flew to and fro.

Peggy made the tea and handed a cup to Althea. She opened a porcelain-lined case which held scones sandwiched with strawberry jam and Devonshire cream. Althea took one and bit into it. She sighed luxuriously.

"I do enjoy this, Ruth. I don't want ever to go back to London." Peggy shook her head.

"You won't get Mr. Trelawney to stay here in winter, I'm afraid." Althea frowned.

"I wish he would shoot or hunt. Even to-day he has gone off to Plymouth."

Peggy suddenly stiffened.

"Althea, I smell smoke." She sprang up, and looked round. Althea, too, got up quickly.

"Yes, I can smell it."

"The gorse is afire," said Peggy sharply. Both heard the snapping crackle of flames in the dry gorse. The sound came from up the hill.

"We'd better move," Althea said and began packing the things back into the tea basket.

"We mustn't wait," Peggy told her. She tried to speak quietly, but something in her tone frightened Althea. "It's the wind," Peggy said, and catching her by the arm, led her quickly to the path by which they had come.

It was only a matter of moments from the time Peggy had caught the first whiff of smoke, but already the snap and crackle had risen to a roar and a cloud of grey smoke full of sparks was sweeping upon them. Peggy stopped short. She realised that escape already was barred on that side.

"Come on!" Althea cried in panic.

"Not that way," Peggy said. "We must go the other way."

Dragging Althea with her, she ran across the little glade and plunged into a path on the southern side. The smoke swept down upon them like a hot fog, blinding them, making their eyes sting. The roar increased as the flames driven by the wind came galloping through the covert. Dried by days of hot sun, the gorse flared like celluloid. A blast of heated air beat upon them.

The path twisted endlessly. Peggy, badly frightened, was struggling to remember its curves. She knew the covert as well as anyone could know it and was aware that there was a way out to the south. To find it in this smother was another thing.

Somehow she got off the track and found herself in a blind valley. There was nothing for it but to go back. By this time Althea was so terrified she would hardly walk. Peggy had to waste half her strength in holding her up.

The heat was frightful, the small fragments of burning stuff which fell upon them like a red hot hail storm stung intolerably. But the smoke was the worst of it. Peggy's eyes streamed so that she was almost blind.

She felt it was useless—that they were both doomed, yet refused to give up. Dragging Althea, she stumbled onwards through this horrible lane. Althea was almost helpless.

"Leave me, Ruth," she moaned hoarsely. "I can't go any further."

"Come on!" answered Peggy, and dragged her up again, and on they staggered through the endless twisting lane with, on either side high walls of thorny, impenetrable gorse.

Just when Peggy was almost at the end of her strength the lane widened and they came out into the open. Where they were Peggy did not know but, as the smoke cloud lifted for an instant she was able to see that they were not outside the gorse but in a space entirety surrounded by the thick growth. It seemed to be about thirty paces across, and again Peggy's heart sank, for she realised that, with the gale that was now blowing the flames would lick clean across it and roast to death any living thing inside it.

A rabbit with its fur burning ran against her feet and nearly tripped her. She stopped a moment to get breath and see if there was any possible chance of safety.

She saw it. A heap of rubble and above it a hole in the ground.

"We're saved!" she cried in Althea's ear. "A mine mouth—keep up, Althea. We'll be out of it in a moment."

Althea did not hear or, if she did, failed to understand. She was stupefied with smoke, heat and terror. Peggy dragged her by main force to the mouth of the pit, thrust her in, then followed.

The adit, one of the scores that are found everywhere in those parts of the moor where the tinners formerly worked, was immensely old. It dropped steeply. A few yards in, It was closed by a roof fall. The bottom was red slime a foot deep. The two girls sank to their knees.

Almost before they were in it the leaping flames reached the northern side of the tiny glade. A blast of red fire licked across the open space and instantly the far side was ablaze . Even within the pit the air was almost unbreathable.

But gorse burns like tinder and the worst lasted for only a minute or two. A layer of cooler air remained on the surface of the mud and enabled the two to breathe. Within a very few minutes the blast had passed and Peggy, peering out, saw a wall of flame careering down the slope beneath them. Very shortly nothing was left but smouldering stumps from which rose clouds of stinging smoke.

"We are all right," she told the other. Althea revived a little.

As the wind blew away the smoke they both felt better and, picking their way through the blackened ruin, reached the car and drove home. Althea's maid was shocked at sight of her mistress. As for Peggy, she got out of her scorched clothes as quickly as possible, had a bath, then went down again. She found the butler and asked him if Mr. Trelawney was back, but the butler told her he was still away and had said that he might not be in for dinner.

"I am going to see if I can find the remains of the tea basket," Peggy said and, getting into the car, drove straight track to the Brake.

It was now six, the wind had dropped and it was a very fine evening. Peggy got out of the car and looked round. Every yard of the great covert had been utterly destroyed. The place was a blackened desolation.

Peggy soon found the ruins of the tea basket and retrieved some blackened tea knives and forks. But that was not the real object of her drive. After making quite sure that no one was in sight, she began to search along the north side of the Break.

For she had a strung suspicion that the fire was no accident, but a deliberate attempt to destroy Althea and herself.

"Try To Be Fair To Him."

IT was a forlorn hope. No one knew that better than Peggy herself. The ground was too dry and hard to show footprints. Peggy's one chance was a fresh molehill which would hold a footprint. But the molehills were not fresh and no print could Peggy find.

She was on the point of giving it up as a bad job when she caught a reflection of the rays of the setting sun on some metal object lying just inside the edge of the burned ground. She gasped as she picked it up. It was a petrol lighter, blackened and partly fused. For a moment she examined it. Wrapping it in her handkerchief, she returned to the car and drove straight back to Coombe Royal.

Althea had gone to bed; the shock had brought on her old trouble, migraine. Peggy dined, and though tired, sat down with a book to await Edgar's return.

It was nearly eleven before she heard the car on the drive. She at once switched out the lights in the drawing room and posted herself at the door facing the hall. She heard the car stop, the front door opened and Edgar came in.

Peggy's first glimpse of his face confirmed her suspicions. Edgar was not merely nervous, he was scared. She saw him start as she stepped forward and faced him."

"Mrs. Trelawney has one of her headaches," she said, quietly. "She is asleep." Edgar licked his dry lips.

"I—thank you," he stammered. "I am sorry." He turned and went into the dining-room and Peggy heard a clink of glasses and knew that he was pouring himself a stiff drink.

Peggy did a lot of thinking that night. In her own mind there was no shadow of doubt that Edgar had tried to murder them both, yet she had to realise that she had no definite proof. Other people besides Edgar used lighters of the make she had picked up. For another thing, she could be certain that Edgar had a cast-iron alibi. At last she made up her mind that she would write an account of the business, seal it and give it to Rose, with orders to post it to Mr. Meakin if she or Althea met with any accident. Then at last she went to sleep.

When Althea was better again she and Peggy went for a drive. This day was hot and calm. Peggy parked the car under Omen Tor, and she and Althea climbed it and found a shady spot among the broken granite boulders at its summit. Here, where no risk could threaten them, they made a peaceful tea.

Althea had a small pair of field glasses, and from the top of the Tor she surveyed the wonderful view of moor and farm lands. From the spot where they sat they could look right down upon Snipe's Barrow, and presently Peggy saw a car turn into the drive. There was no mistaking it for anything but Edgar's big saloon. Althea saw it, too. She did not speak, but Peggy saw her frown. No wonder, for Edgar had said at lunch that he was going into Taverton that afternoon.

Presently Althea got up and climbed higher among the rocks. Peggy shrewdly suspected that she was watching Edgar.

Some time passed, then Althea came back. Her face was white, but a spot of angry color burned on each check.

"I won't stand it," she said fiercely. "He takes everything, gives nothing. So far I've not said a word. Now I mean to speak."

Peggy made no comment. Some instinct warned her to silence. Althea turned to her.

"You've known of this," she accused. "Why didn't you tell me?"

The injustice stung Peggy.

"I did warn you. Long ago, I told you that he had been trying to get Mrs. Jardine to marry him."

During the drive back not a word was said and when they reached the house Althea went straight to her room. Peggy felt very uneasy.

It was nearly seven before Edgar returned. He went straight to his room and Peggy heard Althea tap at the door. She went in and it was a quarter of m hour before she came out.

At dimer she looked more cheerful. Edgar not only talked, but laid himself out to be pleasant. Peggy kept silence and afterwards made an excuse to go to her room.

An hour later there was a tap on her door and Althea came in.

"It's all right, Ruth," she said cheerfully. "I talked straight and Edgar took it well. He has promised to keep clear of her." She paused, but Peggy did not speak. Althea frowned.

"You think I'm weak," she said sharply. "If you'd heard what I said you wouldn't have that idea." Peggy still kept silence. She really dared not speak. Althea's voice rose angrily.

"You have always been down on Edgar. You never were fair to him."

"You are his wife. You ought to know more about him than I," Peggy answered.

"I do," cried Althea defiantly, "And I want you to be more considerate to him in future."

Peggy had a temper and for once it slipped her control.

"I will try," she answered, "but it is hard to be considerate to a man who has tried to murder you. Don't say I'm mad. I have evidence that he started the fire on the moor."

Mason Takes A Hand.

MRS. JARDINE came into her yellow drawing-room to find Edger fidgeting on the hearth rug. He came forward quickly.

"I'm chucking it, Aline," he said sharpy. "That girl suspects."

Mrs. Jardine's upper lip curled slightly.

"Sit down, Edgar." Edgar obeyed, and Mrs. Jardine lit a cigarette.

"What does she suspect, and how do you know anything about it?"

"She and Althea had a row last night," Edgar said. "They were in her room. I heard it all. Just as well I did. That pest of a girl had gone back to Furzy Break and found my lighter."

"Your lighter!"

"I suppose I dropped it," said Edgar sulkily. There was scorn in Mrs. Jardine's eyes as she spoke again.

"How did she know it was yours? Had it initials on it?"

"No, but it's the sort I've always used."

"It's no proof. Plenty of others exist."

Edgar paused, scowling. "I shall tell Peggy she must go."

"Don't be a fool, Edgar. Can't you see that, if you interfere, you'll make Althea suspicious? "Besides"—she stopped a moment and a wicked smile crossed her lips—"besides we can make use of her. Listen!" She leaned across and whispered in Edgar's ear. A scared look came into his eyes.

"It's a frightful risk," he muttered.

"Leave it to me. I'll arrange it all," she assured him.

Still he hesitated.

"I don't like it," he began.

"It's perfectly easy," she declared. "Now go home and be as nice to Althea as ever you can."

No one was more surprised than Peggy at the change which came over Edgar during the following weeks. Instead of seizing every opportunity to rush away he stayed quietly at home. He began to take interest in the garden, he look to riding, and in the evening he played bezique with Althea.

She, poor soul, was delighted. The only thing that marred her new happiness was that her headaches became more frequent. Dr. Gray tried various remedies with little effect, and at last put her on a diet.

She followed the doctor's advice faithfully, but it did not seem to do her much good. She grew thinner, and Peggy was much troubled. The possibility of poison did not escape her, and she watched Althea's food with the utmost care.

She now had such a hatred for and horror of Edgar that it was s martyrdom to live in the same house with him. If she had not been so fond of Althea she would have left Coombe Royal and taken her chance of finding another job. It was torture also to Peggy to live within a couple of miles of John Arkwright.

Peggy heard regularly from her sister. Isobel was better, but still delicate; the baby was doing well, and her husband, released early from prison for his courage in the riot, had work of a kind, at a garage. But without help from Peggy, Isobel would have been sadly pinched.

Early in November, Isobel's husband had to take a car with passengers to Plymouth, and to drive it back empty. Starting late in the day, Mason reached Nethercombe about four. He had a drink at the Feathers and chatted with the landlord, who was always delighted to talk to an intelligent stranger.

In a short time Mason heard all about Coombe Royal, about the death of the old lady, the inquest, and the disappearance of Miss Garland. He learned that Edgar was not popular, that his wife was almost an invalid, and that her companion was a nice young lady but kept to herself. Later, Leonard Mason strolled off towards the big house through a mild and misty dusk. He was carrying a small parcel, a jumper knitted by Isobel, which would give him an excuse to ask for "Miss Fletcher."

The Coombe Royal drive was bordered by trees and thick old laurels. Halfway to the house a gravelled walk turned to the right and led to the kitchen garden. Mason, walking silently, for his shoes were rubber-soled, heard two people talking in low voices, and some instinct developed during his wayward past caused him to halt. What he could hear told him that one was a man, and the other a woman. Almost at once the man came out of this side path and walked towards the house, carrying something.

With the caution of his old profession he stepped on to the grass verge and waited. Another minute and the woman appeared and went towards the gate. Something in her figure and way of walking was familiar to Mason. He waited until she was close, then stepped off the grass.

She stopped short.

"Who are you and what are you doing here?" she demanded. Mason laughed.

"Might ask you the same question, Lil," he replied.

Mrs. Jardine's Profession.

HE saw her start. She came closer and stared at him.

"Leonard Mason," she said slowly, "I thought you were doing time."

"So I did, but I had a bit of luck and they let me out."

"Come to think of it, I read about that. What brings you here?" she questioned quickly.

"One of the maids is a relative of mine, I came to see her."

The other gave a short laugh.

"You always had an answer, Leonard."

"But this one happens to be the truth," Leonard told her coolly. "And that's more than you'd tell me."

"You're wrong," She paused a moment. "I'd hoped that down here I should never again run into any of the old gang. But as you are here I'll have to tell you the truth or you'll get it from someone else."

"You mean you live here?" Leonard said in a tone of extreme surprise.

"I do Leonard, you remember Garry Jardine?"

"That old twister. You bet I do."

"I married him. He died two years ago and left me his money. That gave me a chance to clear out. I came down here. To-day I go everywhere."

Mason chuckled. "The fine lady, eh? Well, you were always fully equipped for the part."

"What about you? You don't look too prosperous," observed the woman.

"I have a job. Some day I'll be my own boss."

"You might be that to-morrow. There's stuff in this house worth lifting." She looked at him. "There's an emerald necklace worth four thousand and they keep it in an iron box you could open with a penknife."

For a moment Mason was tempted. But he had given Isobel his word never to lapse again, and he meant to keep it. At the same time he was deeply interested in this meeting with his old associate, Lily Quinn. Knowing her as he did, he didn't believe a word she had told him except that she might have married Jardine. He did not believe Jardine had left her much, and was certain that her present pose as country lady was only cover for some new exploit.

"Four thousand's worth thinking about," he told her with a grin, "Give me a lay."

Mrs. Jardine told him of the old safe behind the picture in the room of the late Mrs. Trelawney.

"The room's empty," she said.

"Sounds all right," he said lightly. "Perhaps I'd better postpone my call."

At this moment both heard the front door open. Leonard wheeled.

"I'll go," he said in a quick whisper, and melted into the trees.

"Hooked him!" Mrs. Jardine remarked to herself with quiet satisfaction.

If she had stayed to watch Leonard the lady would not have been so sure. He waited until he heard her car move off, then walked up to the house. He rang at the front door and asked for Miss Fletcher. The maid shook her head.

"I'm sorry, sir," she replied, "but Miss Fletcher is with the mistress, who is very ill. I am sure she can't see anyone at present. Will you leave a message?"

Leonard handed her his parcel.

"There's a letter inside," he said, "but tell her I am very sorry not to see her, and tell her, please, that I have to leave for London to-morrow morning. My name is Mason."

He walked back to The Feathers, had supper and another chat with the landlord. At ten Leonard went to bed, but a couple of hours later was out again, though certainly no one at the inn was aware of his going.

The night was still misty, but there was a moon behind the clouds, and it was not dark. Leonard found his way back to Coombe Royal, and presently was in the path from which Mrs. Jardine and her companion had emerged. He drifted silently down it. What he was after was some explanation of the reason why Mrs. Jardine should have been in that path late in the evening, talking to a man who, Leonard was now pretty sure, was Edgar Trelawney.

The ground was moist and, with the aid of a tiny torch no bigger than a fountain pen, Leonard tracked the lady to a shed which, as he saw by looking through a window, contained garden implements. It was locked, so he could not get inside without tools. In any case. it hardly seemed worth while.

Next morning Leonard drove back to London a puzzled and anxious man.

It Happened Before.

IF Leonard had waited a little longer he would have seen a car drive up. Dr. Cray, who had been at Coombe Royal that morning, had been called again by Peggy. Althea was very ill indeed. Peggy was badly frightened.

Cray stayed for more that an hour and, when he left, told Peggy that he would come again before breakfast.

"Meantime," he said, "she is to have nothing but milk."

Peggy had been up much of the previous night. Cray ordered her to bed, saying that Rose Weller could sit up with the patient, and Piggy was so worn out that she fell asleep at once, and did not move until Rose came to tell her that the doctor was due.

Peggy had just time to swallow a cup of tea which Rose brought her and put on a dressing gown and slippers when she heard Cray coming upstairs. She stepped out of the room to find herself facing John Arkwright.

Her eyes widened. He stared hard at her. Then came recognition.

"Peggy!" he said in a voice that was hardly more than a whisper.

Cray was already inside Althea's room, and only they two were in the passage. A great surge of delight ran through Peggy's veins. She stepped forward and put out her arms. John Arkwright caught her, and for the first time in her life Peggy knew real kisses.

But only for a moment. He released her.

"You've been here all the time," he said swiftly.

"All the time," Peggy answered.

"I felt it. I knew you were near. You must tell me afterwards. I must see Mrs. Trelawney."

He went in after Cray had closed the door. Peggy returned to her own room. She was so excited she could not think. With John's kisses still warm on her lips, her only feeling was one of intense happiness.

Suddenly it came to her that she was wearing only pyjamas and dressing gown. She began to dress with all speed. She need not have hurried, for it was half an hour before the two doctors came out of the sick room. She met them and was dismayed at their grim faces. Cray spoke to her.

"I must see Mr. Trelawney at once," he said curtly.

"I will send for him," Peggy replied. "Will you come downstairs, please?"

She took the two into the library and rang. Prang, the butler, answered and was told to summon Edgar. He had hardly left the room before Edgar strode in.

Peggy had never seen Edgar so angry. He glared at John Arkwright.

"What brings you here?" he demanded harshly. "You are not our medical adviser."

"I called him in as consultant, Mr. Trelawney," said Cray. "The matter was too urgent to wait for a specialist from a distance."

"What do you mean?" snapped, Edgar. "Aren't you capable of treating my wife without bringing in this fellow?"

Arkwright interposed.

"If I were you, Mr. Trelawney, I should keep a civil tongue. Your wife is being poisoned. Dr. Cray and I have diagnosed arsenic."

"So that's it," Edgar retorted. "I suppose you are going to accuse me again."

"I have never yet made any accusation against you," said John Arkwright sternly, "Is that all you have to say?"

Edgar bit his lip. He know he had blundered. He did his best to set it right.

"I shouldn't have said that, but I am so shocked and horrified at what you have told me that I hardly know what I am saying. If you are certain that poison has been administered to my wife, I suggest that the police are called in at once."

"That, of course, is necessary," replied Dr. Cray. "With your permission, I will use your telephone."

He left the room and, as he did so, Arkwright glanced at Peggy and made an almost imperceptible sign. She knew what he meant—that he wished to speak to her—and gave him a tiny nod. Then Edgar was speaking again.

"How is my wife, Dr. Arkwright?"

"Alive—and that is about all," was the curt answer.

"Can I see her?"

"You must ask Dr. Cray. I am here merely as consultant." He bowed formally and left the room.

Edgar looked at Peggy and seemed about to speak, then thought better of it and went out. Peggy waited a little, then, when she was sure that Edgar was out of sight, went out by the garden door and round by a path leading to the drive. There, out of sight of the house, she found John. He drew her among the trees, caught her to him once more, and for a short time they talked. Peggy explaining her change of identity, and how Rose Weller alone knew.

"Peggy, are you sure Trelawney doesn't know who you are?" Peggy was troubled.

"I can't be sure. I have thought that Mrs. Jardine recognised me. If so, she would have told him. Those two are always together.

She told him of the burning of Furzy Brake and of the finding of the lighter. She went on: "After that I knew they meant to get rid of Althea, and I have watched over her the whole time. I have been specially careful about her food. The servants are absolutely trustworthy."

"Trelawney hasn't given her anything—wine, for instance, or chocolates?"

"Nothing of the sort. She wouldn't have taken it. She was too sick. She's had nothing but what Dr. Cray prescribed."

John bit his lip. He considered a moment.

"Tell me, Peggy, has Mrs. Jardine been in the house lately?"

"Never so far as I know since the day of the Furzy Brake fire."

John was silent for a moment. Then he said decisively:

"I'll wire for Gerald Meakin at once, and meantime Cray and I will do our best to get the truth. Now go back and watch Mrs. Trelawney—not that there's much risk of their trying anything now," he added grimly. "By this time they must have got the wind up pretty thoroughly." He gave her one quick kiss. "Go," he said. "I shall wait for the police."

Peggy went to her room and sat by the bed and tried to think. But to think clearly was impossible. So much had happened in the last hour that everything was jumbled in her mind.

She heard a car drive up and looked out. Sergeant Caunter got out and John Arkwright met him. Along with Cray they went into the house.

Another half hour dragged by, then Rose came in softly.

"They want to see you, miss," she whispered.

Peggy went down. The sergeant and two doctors were in the library, The first thing that struck her was the look on John Arkwright's face. It frightened her so that she felt as if the very ground was being cut away from under her feet. Sergeant Caunter spoke.

"Sit down, miss," he said. Peggy dropped into a chair. The sergeant went on.

"You are aware that arsenic has been administered to Mrs. Edgar Trelawney?"

"I heard Dr. Arkwright say so," Peggy answered.

"And you have told him that you had no idea how this poison was given to your employer?"

"That is true," Peggy said.

"I have to inform you that Dr. Cray has already discovered the source of the poison. He has found arsenic mixed with the patent food which, I understand you yourself have been preparing for Mrs. Trelawney."

Remanded In Custody.

"THAT is Impossible," Peggy said flatly. "I have opened each packet myself as it came from the chemist, and have mixed the food with milk that was brought straight from the kitchen."

Sergeant Caunter was unmoved.

"There is no doubt about it, Miss Fletcher. Dr. Cray will tell you so himself."

"That is true," Cray said. I took some of the food and used what is called the Reinesch test. It is very simple but very certain, and, though I could not give a precise estimate of the amount of arsenic in the package, there are several grains."

Peggy shook her head.

"I must believe you, Dr. Cray, but how the poison got into the food is beyond me. We ordered a dozen packets of it and, as I say, I opened each one myself."

The sergeant spoke again.

"You admit, Miss Fletcher, that you prepared the food for Mrs. Trelawney?"

"Certainly I admit it," said Peggy, with spirit.

"Under the circumstances," said the sergeant, "you will realise that it is necessary for me to search your room."

* * * * *

AT last Caunter and the two doctors who had accompanied him, returned. Caunter had a small bag in his hand which Peggy recognised as her own.

"Is that where you found the arsenic?" she asked.

"No" Caunter replied, gravely, "but we found this." He opened the bag and produced a magnificent emerald necklace.

"But that's Althea's—Mrs. Trelawney's!" Peggy exclaimed. "How did it come into my bag?"

"That's for you to explain later," said the sergeant grimly.

"You had better get the person who put it there to do the explaining," she retorted. "Surely, if I had come here to rob my employer, I might have done it long ago. And why should I rob her when I have a good salary and everything I want?"

"That's not for me to say, miss," returned the sergeant drily. "My duty is to arrest you."

"The accusation is absurd!" said John Arkwright, sharply. "Anyone who knows Miss Fletcher must be aware that she is incapable of such a crime."

"That's as may be," the sergeant answered "I have no choice but to take Miss Fletcher into custody. Will you please send for your hat and coat?"

* * * * *

TOWARDS noon, John drove Cray to Taverton Police Court. Edgar Trelawney was there already. There were four magistrates on the Bench, the chairman being Sir Harry Tregarthen.

Sergeant Caunter gave a brief but businesslike account of the alleged poisoning and of the discovery of the necklace in Peggy's handbag.

A serious charge, utterly unexpected by the magistrates, created something of a sensation on the bench and the chairman a allowed the case to continue beyond formalities.

Cray was called to give evidence about the arsenic then John Arkwright was obliged to add his testimony. Edgar came next. He spoke in a low voice, but quite clearly. He told of his wife's illness, and he identified the necklace. Sir Harry asked if Mrs. Trelawney and her companion were good friends.

"They were until recently," he replied. "Then they quarrelled."

"What about?"

So came out the story of the quarrel.

John Arkwright bit his lip. This was worse then he had thought.

Emily Crane, a housemaid was able to corroborate the evidence of the quarrel.

At last Peggy herself was asked if she wished to say anything at this stage. To the surprise of the Bench she said she wished to make a statement on oath. Then came a sensation. When the clerk asked her name she replied without hesitation: "Margaret Garland."

"But you are known as Ruth Fletcher," said the chairman curtly.

Quite calmly and clearly Peggy explained the reason for her change of name and appearance, of her first meeting with Althea and the causes which had brought her back to Coombe Royal. The court listened in fascinated silence. As for John Arkwright, he thrilled with admiration, yet at the same time was filled with fear. Sir Harry spoke.

"You mean you have lived here all these months without being recognised?"

"Not entirely, sir. Rose Weller, one of the maids, who was here in old Mrs. Trelawney's time recognised me, but at my request kept silence. To-day Dr. Arkwright recognised me."

"But Mr Edgar Trelawney must surely have recognised you."

"If he did he has never allowed me to know it," Peggy said drily.

"I was utterly unaware of her identity," put in Edgar sharply from his seat.

Peggy told the bench exactly what she had already told Sergeant Caunter. She said clearly that had not the faintest idea where the arsenic came from nor how it found its way into the packages.

The magistrates consulted together, then Sir Harry told Peggy that the case would be adjourned. Although his right to address the court was more than doubtful, John Arkwright rose and asked for bail. On such charges he had small hope of success. Sir Harry shook his head and Peggy was remanded in custody.

The Third Tin.

"POISON" in a police court charge will always carry the story right through the Press, and Leonard Mason saw it in his morning paper.

"It's Lily Quinn," he exclaimed to his wife. "All right, Isobel. I'll go right down and I'll have the truth out of that woman if I have to choke her. Run out to the call box and tell the garage I have to lay up. Say I've got 'flu."

Thanks to Peggy, there was enough money in the flat to pay Mason's fare to Taverton, and Leonard caught the 10.30 from Paddington. From Exeter it is a cross-country journey to Taverton. but he was able to hire a motor cycle from a garage man of his acquaintance with which, via The Feathers Inn, he reached Arkwright's house at Nethercombe. Arkwright was out visiting a patient.

Mason left a note for him then, on the spur of the moment, pushed off for Snipe's Barrow, Mrs. Jardine's home. He had not an idea what he was going to do, but sooner or later he felt it was from Lily Quinn, otherwise Jardine, that he would have to wring the truth, and therefore he might begin now to seek the interview. He left the motor cycle some way from the house and found his way into the garden. It was quite dark now, but Mason had plenty of experience of working in the dark.

It might be futile, he thought, to make a straightforward call and ask to see the woman. A rebuff was likely. He must revert to his old profession and try to get straight into her presence.

A survey showed lights behind curtains in a room fronted by a verandah. He was soon outside it. Taking from his breast pocket a small case, he opened it. It contained a combination tool such as a motor mechanic would carry. The window was a sash one and, like most of its kind, did not fit too well. He levered it up. Only a fraction of an inch, yet, putting his ear to the crack, he could hear plainly the voices of two speakers inside.

"She gave her own name, bold as brass," the man was saying. "Tregarthen asked me if I had recognised her, and of course I told him I hadn't."

"He believed you?"

"He believed me all right We're rid of that girl for a long time to come."

"That doesn't help us," said Mrs. Jardine tartly. "Althea remains."

"Don't you worry about that. We'll lie low a bit and when the business has quietened down we'll fix things."

Mrs. Jardine made a doubtful sound, then she spoke again.

"What have you done with the powder?" There was silence, an oath, and then the confession:

"I forgot all about it."

"You forgot it!" The scorn and contempt in the woman's voice were beyond description.

"I'll go back and see to it at once," said the man.

That was enough for Mason. Pocketing the implement he was off tike a flash and, long before Edgar had reached his car, was bucketing back the way he had come. In less than four minutes he was close to the gate of Coombe Royal. He hid the bicycle in the ditch, ran through the gate, which was wide open, and made for the tool house.

To force this door was for him child's play. Switching on his tiny torch, he looked round. It was the usual kind of tool shed, with its litter, implements, pots, tins and bottles.

Luck was with him. The third tin he opened was nearly full of a heavy, white, gritty, crystalline powder. He thrust the tin into his overcoat pocket, and stood listening a moment, then he chuckled. That would be a good joke! There was no sound of Edgar's car so, snatching up a piece of brown paper, he took out a pencil and wrote in big letters: "Too Late." He stuck this up where the tin had stood.

He felt that the next move must be back to Lily Quinn's balcony to await events and act accordingly. Thus he became a most interested listener to Lily's remarks when Edgar returned empty-handed.

Leonard had known Lily Quinn for years, and had some notion from past experience at what she was capable when she had lost her temper. Mrs. Jardine and her refinement disappeared utterly. The gangster's woman stood revealed. Even Mason had never heard from a woman anything like the storm of imprecation she now let loose on the wretched Edgar.

Presently she went beyond Trelawney's powers of endurance. He strode swiftly across the room.

"Keep off! Keep away from me!" The woman's voice rose to an hysterical scream. "Put your hands on me, and it's the last thing you'll do."

Mason recognised the danger sign. He must act here. As he burst into the room the sharp tang of powder smoke caught his throat. Edgar was lying flat on his back in the middle of the room. Mrs. Jardine stood over him, a smoking pistol in her hand. Her face was fiendish in its fury.

Two Men Talk.

MASON was well aware that the next bullet might smack into his own body. But he had pluck and knew what to do in a tight place. Before she had recovered from her surprise at seeing him he was on her and had wrested the pistol from her.

She was at him with all the fury of a mad creature, clawing and scratching. Mason had no choice but to use the pistol on her head with a force sufficient to stun her. She fell across Edgar.

There was a rush of feet, and her French maid was in the room.

"So it's you, Celeste!" Mason knew her well. "Here's a mess. Lil has shot Mr. Trelawney and I had to do something to save myself."

"Ze fool," Celeste said viciously, "I 'ave told her zat ze temper would make her finish."

"Do what you can, Celeste, and ring up the police. I'll fetch the doctor."

Once more Leonard drove his machine at top-speed for Nethercombe. Arkwright had just got back and was eating a late supper when Mason was brought in.

"I've some first-class news for you, doctor," said the dusty, dishevelled visitor. "Lil—that is Mrs. Jardine—has shot Edgar Trelawney. I think she's killed him. I had to knock her out, then I came for you as quick as I could."

Arkwright sprang up.

* * * * *

WHEN he had heard Mason's story, the doctor was filled with a queer sense of wonder that the man who sat beside him was an ex-burglar and would presently be his brother-in-law. Yet the thought did not worry him in the least. According to his standards, Mason was a man.

At Snipe's Barrow, they found that Celeste had lifted Mrs. Jardine on to a couch but that she was still unconscious. Edgar was on the floor with a pillow under his head. Arkwright examined him.

"Through the lung," he told Mason and shook his head.

"So Lil will hang," said Mason coolly. At this Edgar opened his eyes.

"Who's Lil?" he asked vaguely.

"The woman who shot you," Mason answered.

"Shot me." Edgar tried to rise and would have fallen back but for Arkwright's arm which went swiftly to catch and lower him.

"Doctor—am I going to die?"

"You're badly hurt," John answered. Edgar understood.

"Yes, I know it. How long have I got?"

"Not long, Arkwright answered, as he poured something from a bottle.

"I'd like to talk, if there's time. Yes, and I must explain about Chesham, too. He's still officially missing, but I know where he is."

"Drink this," said the doctor. There was a step outside and Sergeant Caulter entered the room.

"You're just in time sergeant," John said.

* * * * *

"INFERNALLY clever, the way that woman got arsenic into the patent food, opening the pockets, mixing in the arsenic and sealing them to make them look as if they were untouched was something original," said Dr. Arkwright as he and Mason drove together to Nethercombe.

"She's cunning all right, and you can bet, it was her idea planting the necklace on Peggy," Leonard answered. He paused then went on. "There's one thing still worrying me, doctor. Before he died Trelawney swore he had no idea how his mother was poisoned. So it wasn't the wine."

"That's true," John agreed gravely. "And until that is solved Peggy is still under suspicion. Have you any idea on the subject, Mason?"

"Only one. That sleeping draught you ordered was doctored."

"Who could have done it? Rose Weller brought it straight from Perkins shop. She's devoted to Peggy."

"Then it was Perkins," said Leonard.

John shook his head.

"The last man to do it. He's a timid little fellow. Now he's very ill. I was visiting him when you called this evening. Between ourselves his lungs are gone and he can't live."

"See him first thing in the morning, and ask him straight out," Leonard said urgently.

"I'll do it," John promised and pulled up at his own gate. "I'll give you a bed for the night, Mason," he offered. "You'll be more comfortable here than at The Feathers." Before Mason could answer Mrs. Millikan was at the door.

"Charles Perkins is worse, sir. They want you at once."

"I'll go straight on Mr. Mason is staying the night, Mrs. Millikan. I'll leave him here and he will tell you the news."

Mason found an eager listener. Mrs. Millikan was devoted to her employer and almost equally so to Peggy. She was delighted to hear that Peggy had been cleared, and her release the next morning was assured.

Then she got supper for him and it was long since Mason had tasted such a meal. It pleased the kind woman to see how the guest enjoyed the good things.

He had finished and was comfortably smoking a cigarette when John Arkwright strode in. He looked sad, but for the first time for many months, unworried.

"You were right, Mason," he exclaimed, "absolutely right. Poor Perkins has gone but, before he died he told me the whole thing. He blundered in making up the prescription—made it actually double strength. He was in love with Rose Weller and her presence in the shop made him nervous. But it wasn't until he heard of old Mrs. Trelawney's death that he realise what he had done. He vowed to me that he had made up his mind to confess if Peggy was actually accused and that, ever since the inquest, his silence had troubled him. I wrote his statement, and he was just able to sign it."

Leonard drew a long breath.

"This is my lucky day," he said. "And to-morrow is yours, doctor."

For once John Arkwright shook off his usual reserve.

"The test but one," he declared. "The best will be the day Peggy and I am married."


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
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