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'I am not angry with you, only disappointed. What has happened has shown me that you do not really love me, not as I think of love. Oh, I know that when we are together you think you do, but absence is the test. Absence is the acid-test of love that separates the base metal from the true. After what has happened, we can't go on with our engagement. It would be farcical. I could never feel that way toward you again. We shall always be friends, I hope. But as for love--love is not a machine. It cannot be shattered and put together again.'

She turned and began to walk up the drive. Hanging over the top of the gate like a wet sock, Lord Dawlish watched her go. The interview was over, and he could not think of one single thing to say. Her white dress made a patch of light in the shadows. She moved slowly, as if weighed down by sad thoughts, like one who, as Luella Delia Philpotts beautifully puts it, paces with measured step behind the coffin of a murdered heart. The bend of the drive hid her from his sight.

About twenty minutes later Dudley Pickering, smoking sentimentally in the darkness hard by the porch, received a shock. He was musing tenderly on his Claire, who was assisting him in the process by singing in the drawing-room, when he was aware of a figure, the sinister figure of a man who, pressed against the netting of the porch, stared into the lighted room beyond.

Dudley Pickering's first impulse was to stride briskly up to the intruder, tap him on the shoulder, and ask him what the devil he wanted; but a second look showed him that the other was built on too ample a scale to make this advisable. He was a large, fit-looking intruder.

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Mr Pickering was alarmed. There had been the usual epidemic of burglaries that season. Houses had been broken into, valuable possessions removed. In one case a negro butler had been struck over the head with a gas-pipe and given a headache. In these circumstances, it was unpleasant to find burly strangers looking in at windows.

'Hi!' cried Mr Pickering.

The intruder leaped a foot. It had not occurred to Lord Dawlish, when in an access of wistful yearning he had decided to sneak up to the house in order to increase his anguish by one last glimpse of Claire, that other members of the household might be out in the grounds. He was just thinking sorrowfully, as he listened to the music, how like his own position was to that of the hero of Tennyson's _Maud_--a poem to which he was greatly addicted, when Mr Pickering's 'Hi!' came out of nowhere and hit him like a torpedo.

He turned in agitation. Mr Pickering having prudently elected to stay in the shadows, there was no one to be seen. It was as if the voice of conscience had shouted 'Hi!' at him. He was just wondering if he had imagined the whole thing, when he perceived the red glow of a cigar and beyond it a shadowy form.

It was not the fact that he was in an equivocal position, staring into a house which did not belong to him, with his feet on somebody else's private soil, that caused Bill to act as he did. It was the fact that at that moment he was not feeling equal to conversation with anybody on any subject whatsoever. It did not occur to him that his behaviour might strike a nervous stranger as suspicious. All he aimed at was the swift removal of himself from a spot infested by others of his species. He ran, and Mr Pickering, having followed him with the eye of fear, went rather shakily into the house, his brain whirling with professional cracksmen and gas pipes and assaulted butlers, to relate his adventure.

'A great, hulking, ruffianly sort of fellow glaring in at the window,' said Mr Pickering. 'I shouted at him and he ran like a rabbit.'

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'Gee! Must have been one of the gang that's been working down here,' said Roscoe Sherriff. 'There might be a quarter of a column in that, properly worked, but I guess I'd better wait until he actually does bust the place.'

'We must notify the police!'

'Notify the police, and have them butt in and stop the thing and kill a good story!' There was honest amazement in the Press-agent's voice. 'Let me tell you, it isn't so easy to get publicity these days that you want to go out of your way to stop it!'

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Mr Pickering was appalled. A dislike of this man, which had grown less vivid since his scene with Claire, returned to him with redoubled force.

'Why, we may all be murdered in our beds!' he cried.

'Front-page stuff!' said Roscoe Sherriff, with gleaming eyes. 'And three columns at least. Fine!'

It might have consoled Lord Dawlish somewhat, as he lay awake that night, to have known that the man who had taken Claire from him--though at present he was not aware of such a man's existence--also slept ill.

Lady Wetherby sat in her room, writing letters. The rest of the household were variously employed. Roscoe Sherriff was prowling about the house, brooding on campaigns of publicity. Dudley Pickering was walking in the grounds with Claire. In a little shack in the woods that adjoined the high-road, which he had converted into a temporary studio, Lord Wetherby was working on a picture which he proposed to call 'Innocence', a study of a small Italian child he had discovered in Washington Square. Lady Wetherby, who had been taken to see the picture, had suggested 'The Black Hand's Newest Recruit' as a better title than the one selected by the artist.

It is a fact to be noted that of the entire household only Lady Wetherby could fairly be described as happy. It took very little to make Lady Wetherby happy. Fine weather, good food, and a complete abstention from classical dancing--give her these and she asked no more. She was, moreover, delighted at Claire's engagement. It seemed to her, for she had no knowledge of the existence of Lord Dawlish, a genuine manifestation of Love's Young Dream. She liked Dudley Pickering and she was devoted to Claire. It made her happy to think that it was she who had brought them together.