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'Eh?' said Mr Pickering, dazedly.

He looked at what she had in her hand, but it conveyed nothing to his overwrought mind.

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Claire stamped.

'Very well,' she said.

She flung something on the ground before him--a small, sparkling object. Then she swept away, his eyes following her, and was lost in the darkness of the trees. Mechanically Mr Pickering stooped to pick up what she had let fall. He recognized it now. It was her engagement ring.

Bill leaned his back against the gate that separated the grounds of the bee-farm from the high road and mused pleasantly. He was alone. Elizabeth was walking up the drive on her way to the house to tell the news to Nutty. James, the cat, who had come down from the roof of the outhouse, was sharpening his claws on a neighbouring tree. After the whirl of excitement that had been his portion for the past few hours, the peace of it all appealed strongly to Bill. It suited the mood of quiet happiness which was upon him.

Quietly happy, that was how he felt now that it was all over. The white heat of emotion had subsided to a gentle glow of contentment conducive to thought. He thought tenderly of Elizabeth. She had turned to wave her hand before going into the house, and he was still smiling fatuously. Wonderful girl! Lucky chap he was! Rum, the way they had come together! Talk about Fate, what?

He stooped to tickle James, who had finished stropping his claws and was now enjoying a friction massage against his leg, and began to brood on the inscrutable way of Fate.

Rum thing, Fate! Most extraordinary!

Suppose he had never gone down to Marvis Bay that time. He had wavered between half a dozen places; it was pure chance that he had chosen Marvis Bay. If he hadn't he would never have met old Nutcombe. Probably old Nutcombe had wavered between half a dozen places too. If they hadn't both happened to choose Marvis Bay they would never have met. And if they hadn't been the only visitors there they might never have got to know each other. And if old Nutcombe hadn't happened to slice his approach shots he would never have put him under an obligation. Queer old buster, old Nutcombe, leaving a fellow he hardly knew from Adam a cool million quid just because he cured him of slicing.

It was at this point in his meditations that it suddenly occurred to Bill that he had not yet given a thought to what was immeasurably the most important of any of the things that ought to be occupying his mind just now. What was he to do about this Lord Dawlish business?

Life at Brookport had so accustomed him to being plain Bill Chalmers that it had absolutely slipped his mind that he was really Lord Dawlish, the one man in the world whom Elizabeth looked on as an enemy. What on earth was he to do about that? Tell her? But if he told her, wouldn't she chuck him on the spot?

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This was awful. The dreamy sense of well-being left him. He straightened himself to face this problem, ignoring the hint of James, who was weaving circles about his legs expectant of more tickling. A man cannot spend his time tickling cats when he has to concentrate on a dilemma of this kind.