Beatrice felt as though she were in the land
"I don't know what to think," he muttered, glancing sideways at her and then away into the shadowy garden. "I believe Orchard is right, and that you are the daughter of the man who was murdered in this house. But I do not believe what Mrs. Snow says. Your mother--or, indeed, any woman--would never commit a crime in so brutal a manner. I don't believe any woman unless an Amazon would have the strength, for one thing."

He would have said more, but was drawn back by Dinah, who apparently was still jealous of the stranger. Beatrice remembered that this was the woman with whom Jerry had been speaking during the day, the same that had awakened the jealousy of Dinah. Also, she was the daughter of the ex-butler. She advanced with gliding steps, and looked like a beautiful lithe tigress stealing towards her prey.

With Dinah, still jealous, Jerry after that one abrupt introduction disappeared down the avenue, probably to be scolded. But Beatrice did not look at the retreating lovers, nor indeed at the advancing Miss Carr, whose foot was now on the lowest step of the terrace. All her attention was concentrated on Vivian Paslow, who stood at the top of the steps as though frozen into stone. The woman came up the steps, and was now so near that Beatrice could see the smile on her fair face.

"You!" said Vivian hoarsely, and fell back a pace.

"Myself," said Miss Carr, "and no ghost either."

"Then do so," said Paslow, throwing back his head. "We know a great deal of one another, Major, so it may be to your interest to speak the truth," and he looked meaningly at the other man.

"I never tell lies, unless they are necessary," said Ruck calmly. "In this instance the truth will suit me very well."

Beatrice sat down, still holding the certificate of Mrs. Paslow's death, which seemed to be quite in order. "I am waiting to hear the truth," she said, "and hear it I will."

Ruck turned pale and looked at the ground. "Can Lady Watson have secured it?" he muttered.

"You had better ask her. And now, Major Ruck, that I know your real reason for wishing to marry me, I may tell you that I would willingly have given the Obi necklace to escape such a match!" and she turned her back on him scornfully.


Mrs. Lilly was the best person to apply to for a history of Colonel Hall's untimely fate, as she had been housekeeper to the Paslows for many, many years. Beatrice, during the first fortnight of her stay, hinted that she would like to hear about the tragedy, and Mrs. Lilly, after some hesitation, promised to tell her what she knew. Accordingly, Beatrice, two weeks after the burial of her stepfather, was seated in the Grange garden waiting for the housekeeper. Mrs. Lilly had first to attend to her work, but promised that as soon as it was ended she would come out and chat. As Dinah had gone over to the Rectory to see Mrs. Snow, Beatrice was quite alone. She did not count Vivian, as he scarcely stopped an entire day at the Grange, and very rarely a night. Some business took him constantly to London, but what it might be the girl could not guess. After that abrupt conversation in The Camp, the two said very little to one another. It was a strange wooing, and extremely unsatisfactory.

The garden of Convent Grange was delightful, as was the house, although both were somewhat dilapidated. The ancient red brick mansion had been--as Mrs. Snow had informed Beatrice--a convent in the reign of that arch-iconoclast, Henry VIII. When his greedy hand was laid upon ecclesiastical property, he had bestowed the convent on Amyas Paslow, who promptly turned out the nuns, to house himself and his family. But there was some curse on the place and on the race, for the family never prospered overmuch, and when the property came to Vivian Paslow, he was as poor as an English gentleman of long descent well can be. Nevertheless, he still clung to the old mansion, although he could have sold it at an advantageous price to an American millionaire. In some wonderful way he managed to scrape enough money together to pay the interest on the mortgage to Alpenny, and thus had kept a roof over his head and that of Dinah. Lately, as he had told Beatrice under the oak, he had inherited a small sum of money from an aunt, and thus things were easier with him. The girl fancied that it must be business connected with the paying-off of the mortgage that took him so often to London; but on this point he gave her no information.

The day was hot and drowsy, and Beatrice, clothed in black--for she paid her stepfather the compliment of wearing mourning--sat on an old stone seat, between two yew trees cut in the shape of peacocks. Before her, on a slight rise, rose the mellow brick walls of the Grange, covered with ivy. A terrace ran along the front of the house, and over the door was the mouldering escutcheon of the Paslow family. What with the queer pointed roofs, the twisted stacks of chimneys, the diamond-paned casements, and the prim gardens, the place looked particularly delightful. A poet could have dreamed away his days in this rustic paradise, and  of the Lotos-eaters. But even as she slipped into vague dreams, she pulled herself up, and shunned the enchanted ground. There was sterner work to do than dreaming. Before she could become the mistress of this castle of indolence, and wife of its master, it was necessary to lift the cloud which rested on the place. To do so, she would have to begin by questioning Mrs. Lilly, and impatiently awaited the arrival of that worthy soul.