Infomotions, Inc.The Weavers: a tale of England and Egypt of fifty years ago - Volume 5 / Parker, Gilbert, 1860-1932

Author: Parker, Gilbert, 1860-1932
Title: The Weavers: a tale of England and Egypt of fifty years ago - Volume 5
Date: 2002-10-13
Contributor(s): Hogarth, C. J. [Translator]
Size: 90192
Identifier: etext6265
Language: en
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Rights: GNU General Public License
Tag(s): hylda eglington eyes project duchess windlehurst gilbert parker weavers tale england egypt fifty volume gutenberg hogarth translator
Versions: original; local mirror; plain HTML (this file);
concordance (most frequent 100 words, etc.)
Related: Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts

The Project Gutenberg EBook The Weavers, by Gilbert Parker, v5
#92 in our series by Gilbert Parker

Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the
copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing
this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.

This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project
Gutenberg file.  Please do not remove it.  Do not change or edit the
header without written permission.
Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the
eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of this file.  Included is
important information about your specific rights and restrictions in
how the file may be used.  You can also find out about how to make a
donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.

**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts**

**EBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971**

*****These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers*****

Title: The Weavers, Volume 5.

Author: Gilbert Parker

Release Date: August, 2004  [EBook #6265]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule]
[This file was first posted on November 14, 2002]

Edition: 10

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


This eBook was produced by David Widger <>


By Gilbert Parker





              "And Mario can soothe with a tenor note
               The souls in purgatory."

"Non ti scordar di mi!"  The voice rang out with passionate stealthy
sweetness, finding its way into far recesses of human feeling.  Women of
perfect poise and with the confident look of luxury and social fame
dropped their eyes abstractedly on the opera-glasses lying in their laps,
or the programmes they mechanically fingered, and recalled, they knew not
why--for what had it to do with this musical narration of a tragic
Italian tale!--the days when, in the first flush of their wedded life,
they had set a seal of devotion and loyalty and love upon their arms,
which, long ago, had gone to the limbo of lost jewels, with the chaste,
fresh desires of worshipping hearts.  Young egotists, supremely happy and
defiant in the pride of the fact that they loved each other, and that it
mattered little what the rest of the world enjoyed, suffered, and
endured--these were suddenly arrested in their buoyant and solitary
flight, and stirred restlessly in their seats.  Old men whose days of
work were over; who no longer marshalled their legions, or moved at a nod
great ships upon the waters in masterful manoeuvres; whose voices were
heard no more in chambers of legislation, lashing partisan feeling to a
height of cruelty or lulling a storm among rebellious followers; whose
intellects no longer devised vast schemes of finance, or applied secrets
of science to transform industry--these heard the enthralling cry of a
soul with the darkness of eternal loss gathering upon it, and drew back
within themselves; for they too had cried like this one time or another
in their lives.  Stricken, they had cried out, and ambition had fled
away, leaving behind only the habit of living, and of work and duty.

As Hylda, in the Duchess of Snowdon's box, listened with a face which
showed nothing of what she felt, and looking straight at the stage before
her, the words of a poem she had learned but yesterday came to her mind,
and wove themselves into the music thrilling from the voice in the stage

    "And what is our failure here but a triumph's evidence
       For the fulness of the days?  Have we withered or agonised?
     Why else was the pause prolonged but that singing might issue
       Why rushed the discords in, but that harmony should be prized?"

"And what is our failure here but a triumph's evidence?  Was it then so?
The long weeks which had passed since that night at Hamley, when she had
told Eglington the truth about so many things, had brought no peace,
no understanding, no good news from anywhere.  The morning after she
had spoken with heart laid bare.  Eglington had essayed to have a
reconciliation; but he had come as the martyr, as one injured.  His
egotism at such a time, joined to his attempt to make light of things,
of treating what had happened as a mere "moment of exasperation," as "one
of those episodes inseparable from the lives of the high-spirited," only
made her heart sink and grow cold, almost as insensible as the flesh
under a spray of ether.  He had been neither wise nor patient.  She had
not slept after that bitter, terrible scene, and the morning had found
her like one battered by winter seas, every nerve desperately alert to
pain, yet tears swimming at her heart and ready to spring to her eyes at
a touch of the real thing, the true note--and she knew so well what the
true thing was!  Their great moment had passed, had left her withdrawn
into herself, firmly, yet without heart, performing the daily duties of
life, gay before the world, the delightful hostess, the necessary and
graceful figure at so many functions.

Even as Soolsby had done, who went no further than to tell Eglington his
dark tale, and told no one else, withholding it from "Our Man"; as Sybil
Lady Eglington had shrunk when she had been faced by her obvious duty, so
Hylda hesitated, but from better reason than either.  To do right in the
matter was to strike her husband--it must be a blow now, since her voice
had failed.  To do right was to put in the ancient home and house of
Eglington one whom he--with anger and without any apparent desire to have
her altogether for himself, all the riches of her life and love--had
dared to say commanded her sympathy and interest, not because he was a
man dispossessed of his rights, but because he was a man possessed of
that to which he had no right.  The insult had stung her, had driven her
back into a reserve, out of which she seemed unable to emerge.  How could
she compel Eglington to do right in this thing--do right by his own
father's son?

Meanwhile, that father's son was once more imperilling his life, once
more putting England's prestige in the balance in the Soudan, from which
he had already been delivered twice as though by miracles.  Since he had
gone, months before, there had been little news; but there had been much
public anxiety; and she knew only too well that there had been
'pourparlers' with foreign ministers, from which no action came safe-
guarding David.

Many a human being has realised the apathy, the partial paralysis of the
will, succeeding a great struggle, which has exhausted the vital forces.
Many a general who has fought a desperate and victorious fight after a
long campaign, and amid all the anxieties and miseries of war, has failed
to follow up his advantage, from a sudden lesion of the power for action
in him.  He has stepped from the iron routine of daily effort into a
sudden freedom, and his faculties have failed him, the iron of his will
has vanished.  So it was with Hylda.  She waited for she knew not what.
Was it some dim hope that Eglington might see the right as she saw it?
That he might realise how unreal was this life they were living,
outwardly peaceful and understanding, deluding the world, but inwardly a
place of tears.  How she dreaded the night and its recurrent tears, and
the hours when she could not sleep, and waited for the joyless morning,
as one lost on the moor, blanched with cold, waits for the sun-rise!
Night after night at a certain hour--the hour when she went to bed at
last after that poignant revelation to Eglington--she wept, as she had
wept then, heart-broken tears of disappointment, disillusion, loneliness;
tears for the bitter pity of it all; for the wasting and wasted
opportunities; for the common aim never understood or planned together;
for the precious hours lived in an air of artificial happiness and social
excitement; for a perfect understanding missed; for the touch which no
longer thrilled.

But the end of it all must come.  She was looking frail and delicate, and
her beauty, newly refined, and with a fresh charm, as of mystery or pain,
was touched by feverishness.  An old impatience once hers was vanished,
and Kate Heaver would have given a month's wages for one of those flashes
of petulance of other days ever followed by a smile.  Now the smile was
all too often there, the patient smile which comes to those who have
suffered.  Hardness she felt at times, where Eglington was concerned,
for he seemed to need her now not at all, to be self-contained, self-
dependent--almost arrogantly so; but she did not show it, and she was
outwardly patient.

In his heart of hearts Eglington believed that she loved him, that her
interest in David was only part of her idealistic temperament--the
admiration of a woman for a man of altruistic aims; but his hatred of
David, of what David was, and of his irrefutable claims, reacted on her.
Perverseness and his unhealthy belief that he would master her in the
end, that she would one day break down and come to him, willing to take
his view in all things, and to be his slave--all this drove him farther
and farther on a fatal, ever-broadening path.

Success had spoiled him.  He applied his gifts in politics, daringly
unscrupulous, superficially persuasive, intellectually insinuating, to
his wife; and she, who had been captured once by all these things, was
not to be captured again.  She knew what alone could capture her; and,
as she sat and watched the singers on the stage now, the divine notes of
that searching melody still lingering in her heart, there came a sudden
wonder whether Eglington's heart could not be wakened.  She knew that it
never had been, that he had never known love, the transfiguring and
reclaiming passion.  No, no, surely it could not be too late--her
marriage with him had only come too soon!  He had ridden over her without
mercy; he had robbed her of her rightful share of the beautiful and the
good; he had never loved her; but if love came to him, if he could but
once realise how much there was of what he had missed!  If he did not
save himself--and her--what would be the end?  She felt the cords drawing
her elsewhere; the lure of a voice she had heard in an Egyptian garden
was in her ears.  One night at Hamley, in an abandonment of grief-life
hurt her so--she had remembered the prophecy she had once made that she
would speak to David, and that he would hear; and she had risen from her
seat, impelled by a strange new feeling, and had cried: "Speak!  speak to
me!"  As plainly as she had ever heard anything in her life, she had
heard his voice speak to her a message that sank into the innermost
recesses of her being, and she had been more patient afterwards.  She had
no doubt whatever; she had spoken to him, and he had answered; but the
answer was one which all the world might have heard.

Down deep in her nature was an inalienable loyalty, was a simple,
old-fashioned feeling that "they two," she and Eglington, should cleave
unto each other till death should part.  He had done much to shatter
that feeling; but now, as she listened to Mario's voice, centuries of
predisposition worked in her, and a great pity awoke in her heart.  Could
she not save him, win him, wake him, cure him of the disease of Self?

The thought brought a light to her eyes which had not been there for many
a day.  Out of the deeps of her soul this mist of a pure selflessness
rose, the spirit of that idealism which was the real chord of sympathy
between her and Egypt.

Yes, she would, this once again, try to win the heart of this man; and so
reach what was deeper than heart, and so also give him that without which
his life must be a failure in the end, as Sybil Eglington had said.  How
often had those bitter anguished words of his mother rung in her ears--
"So brilliant and unscrupulous, like yourself; but, oh, so sure of
winning a great place in the world .  .  .  so calculating and determined
and ambitious !"  They came to her now, flashed between the eager
solicitous eyes of her mind and the scene of a perfect and everlasting
reconciliation which it conjured up--flashed and were gone; for her will
rose up and blurred them into mist; and other words of that true
palimpsest of Sybil Eglington's broken life came instead: "And though he
loves me little, as he loves you little too, yet he is my son, and for
what he is we are both responsible one way or another."  As the mother,
so the wife.  She said to herself now in sad paraphrase, "And though he
loves me little, yet he is my husband, and for what he is it may be that
I am in some sense responsible."  Yet he is my husband!  All that it was
came to her; the closed door, the drawn blinds; the intimacy which shut
them away from all the world; the things said which can only be said
without desecration between two honest souls who love each other; and
that sweet isolation which makes marriage a separate world, with its own
sacred revelation.  This she had known; this had been; and though the
image of the sacred thing had been defaced, yet the shrine was not

For she believed that each had kept the letter of the law; that, whatever
his faults, he had turned his face to no other woman.  If she had not
made his heart captive and drawn him by an ever-shortening cord of
attraction, yet she was sure that none other had any influence over him,
that, as he had looked at her in those short-lived days of his first
devotion, he looked at no other.  The way was clear yet.  There was
nothing irretrievable, nothing irrevocable, which would for ever stain
the memory and tarnish the gold of life when the perfect love should be
minted.  Whatever faults of mind or disposition or character were his--
or hers--there were no sins against the pledges they had made, nor the
bond into which they had entered.  Life would need no sponge.  Memory
might still live on without a wound or a cowl of shame.

It was all part of the music to which she listened, and she was almost
oblivious of the brilliant throng, the crowded boxes, or of the Duchess
of Snowdon sitting near her strangely still, now and again scanning the
beautiful face beside her with a reflective look.  The Duchess loved the
girl--she was but a girl, after all--as she had never loved any of her
sex; it had come to be the last real interest of her life.  To her eyes,
dimmed with much seeing, blurred by a garish kaleidoscope of fashionable
life, there had come a look which was like the ghost of a look she had,
how many decades ago.

Presently, as she saw Hylda's eyes withdraw from the stage, and look at
her with a strange, soft moisture and a new light in them, she laid her
fan confidently on her friend's knee, and said in her abrupt whimsical
voice: "You like it, my darling; your eyes are as big as saucers.  You
look as if you'd been seeing things, not things on that silly stage, but
what Verdi felt when he wrote the piece, or something of more account
than that."

"Yes, I've been seeing things," Hylda answered with a smile which came
from a new-born purpose, the dream of an idealist.  "I've been seeing
things that Verdi did not see, and of more account, too.  .  .  .
Do you suppose the House is up yet?"

A strange look flashed into the Duchess's eyes, which had been watching
her with as much pity as interest.  Hylda had not been near the House of
Commons this session, though she had read the reports with her usual
care.  She had shunned the place.

"Why, did you expect Eglington?" the Duchess asked idly, yet she was
watchful too, alert for every movement in this life where the footsteps
of happiness were falling by the edge of a precipice, over which she
would not allow herself to look.  She knew that Hylda did not expect
Eglington, for the decision to come to the opera was taken at the last

"Of course not--he doesn't know we are here.  But if it wasn't too late,
I thought I'd go down and drive him home."

The Duchess veiled her look.  Here was some new development in the
history which had been torturing her old eyes, which had given her and
Lord Windlehurst as many anxious moments as they had known in many a day,
and had formed them into a vigilance committee of two, who waited for the
critical hour when they should be needed.

"We'll go at once if you like," she replied.  "The opera will be over
soon.  We sent word to Windlehurst to join us, you remember, but he won't
come now; it's too late.  So, we'll go, if you like."

She half rose, but the door of the box opened, and Lord Windlehurst
looked in quizzically.  There was a smile on his face.

"I'm late, I know; but you'll forgive me--you'll forgive me, dear lady,"
he added to Hylda, "for I've been listening to your husband making a
smashing speech for a bad cause."

Hylda smiled.  "Then I must go and congratulate him," she answered, and
withdrew her hand from that of Lord Windlehurst, who seemed to hold it
longer than usual, and pressed it in a fatherly way.

"I'm afraid the House is up," he rejoined, as Hylda turned for her opera-
cloak; "and I saw Eglington leave Palace Yard as I came away."  He gave a
swift, ominous glance towards the Duchess, which Hylda caught, and she
looked at each keenly.

"It's seldom I sit in the Peers' Gallery," continued Windlehurst;
"I don't like going back to the old place much.  It seems empty and
hollow.  But I wouldn't have missed Eglington's fighting speech for a
good deal."

"What was it about?" asked Hylda as they left the box.  She had a sudden
throb of the heart.  Was it the one great question, that which had been
like a gulf of fire between them?

"Oh, Turkey--the unpardonable Turk," answered Windlehurst.  "As good a
defence of a bad case as I ever heard."

"Yes, Eglington would do that well," said the Duchess enigmatically,
drawing her cloak around her and adjusting her hair.  Hylda looked at her
sharply, and Lord Windlehurst slyly, but the Duchess seemed oblivious of
having said anything out of the way, and added: "It's a gift seeing all
that can be said for a bad cause, and saying it, and so making the other
side make their case so strong that the verdict has to be just."

"Dear Duchess, it doesn't always work out that way," rejoined Windlehurst
with a dry laugh.  "Sometimes the devil's advocate wins."

"You are not very complimentary to my husband," retorted Hylda, looking
him in the eyes, for she was not always sure when he was trying to baffle

"I'm not so sure of that.  He hasn't won his case yet.  He has only
staved off the great attack.  It's coming--soon."

"What is the great attack?  What has the Government, or the Foreign
Office, done or left undone?"  "Well, my dear--" Suddenly Lord
Windlehurst remembered himself, stopped, put up his eyeglass, and with
great interest seemed to watch a gay group of people opposite; for the
subject of attack was Egypt and the Government's conduct in not helping
David, in view not alone of his present danger, but of the position of
England in the country, on which depended the security of her highway to
the East.  Windlehurst was a good actor, and he had broken off his words
as though the group he was now watching had suddenly claimed his
attention.  "Well, well, Duchess," he said reflectively, "I see a new
nine days' wonder yonder."  Then, in response to a reminder from Hylda,
he continued: "Ah, yes, the attack!  Oh, Persia--Persia, and our feeble
diplomacy, my dear lady, though you mustn't take that as my opinion,
opponent as I am.  That's the charge, Persia--and her cats."

The Duchess breathed a sigh of relief; for she knew what Windlehurst had
been going to say, and she shrank from seeing what she felt she would
see, if Egypt and Claridge Pasha's name were mentioned.  That night at
Harnley had burnt a thought into her mind which she did not like.  Not
that she had any pity for Eglington; her thought was all for this girl
she loved.  No happiness lay in the land of Egypt for her, whatever her
unhappiness here; and she knew that Hylda must be more unhappy still
before she was ever happy again, if that might be.  There was that
concerning Eglington which Hylda did not know, yet which she must know
one day--and then!  But why were Hylda's eyes so much brighter and softer
and deeper to-night?  There was something expectant, hopeful, brooding in
them.  They belonged not to the life moving round her, but were shining
in a land of their own, a land of promise.  By an instinct in each of
them they stood listening for a moment to the last strains of the opera.
The light leaped higher in Hylda's eyes.

"Beautiful--oh, so beautiful!" she said, her hand touching the Duchess's

The Duchess gave the slim warm fingers a spasmodic little squeeze.  "Yes,
darling, beautiful," she rejoined; and then the crowd began to pour out
behind them.

Their carriages were at the door.  Lord Windlehurst put Hylda in.  "The
House is up," he said.  "You are going on somewhere?"

"No--home," she said, and smiled into his old, kind, questioning eyes.

"Home!" he murmured significantly as he turned towards the Duchess and
her carriage.  "Home!" he repeated, and shook his head sadly.

"Shall I drive you to your house?" the Duchess asked.

"No, I'll go with you to your door, and walk back to my cell.  Home!" he
growled to the footman, with a sardonic note in the voice.

As they drove away, the Duchess turned to him abruptly.  "What did you
mean by your look when you said you had seen Eglington drive away from
the House?"

"Well, my dear Betty, she--the fly-away--drives him home now.  It has
come to that."

"To her house--Windlehurst, oh, Windlehurst!"

She sank back in the cushions, and gave what was as near a sob as she had
given in many a day.  Windlehurst took her hand.  "No, not so bad as that
yet.  She drove him to his club.  Don't fret, my dear Betty."

Home!  Hylda watched the shops, the houses, the squares, as she passed
westward, her mind dwelling almost happily on the new determination to
which she had come.  It was not love that was moving her, not love for
him, but a deeper thing.  He had brutally killed love--the full life of
it--those months ago; but there was a deep thing working in her which was
as near nobility as the human mind can feel.  Not in a long time had she
neared her home with such expectation and longing.  Often on the doorstep
she had shut her eyes to the light and warmth and elegance of it, because
of that which she did not see.  Now, with a thrill of pleasure, she saw
its doors open.  It was possible Eglington might have come home already.
Lord Windlehurst had said that he had left the House.  She did not ask if
he was in--it had not been her custom for a long time--and servants were
curious people; but she looked at the hall-table.  Yes, there was a hat
which had evidently just been placed there, and gloves, and a stick.  He
was at home, then.

She hurried to her room, dropped her opera-cloak on a chair, looked at
herself in the glass, a little fluttered and critical, and then crossed
the hallway to Eglington's bedroom.  She listened for a moment.  There
was no sound.  She turned the handle of the door softly, and opened it.
A light was burning low, but the room was empty.  It was as she thought,
he was in his study, where he spent hours sometimes after he came home,
reading official papers.  She went up the stairs, at first swiftly, then
more slowly, then with almost lagging feet.  Why did she hesitate?  Why
should a woman falter in going to her husband--to her own one man of all
the world?  Was it not, should it not be, ever the open door between
them?  Confidence--confidence--could she not have it, could she not get
it now at last?  She had paused; but now she moved on with quicker step,
purpose in her face, her eyes softly lighted.

Suddenly she saw on the floor an opened letter.  She picked it up, and,
as she did so, involuntarily observed the writing.  Almost mechanically
she glanced at the contents.  Her heart stood still.  The first words
scorched her eyes.

     "Eglington--Harry, dearest," it said, "you shall not go to sleep
     to-night without a word from me.  This will make you think of me
     when .  .  .  "

Frozen, struck as by a mortal blow, Hylda looked at the signature.  She
knew it--the cleverest, the most beautiful adventuress which the
aristocracy and society had produced.  She trembled from head to foot,
and for a moment it seemed that she must fall.  But she steadied herself
and walked firmly to Eglington's door.  Turning the handle softly, she
stepped inside.

He did not hear her.  He was leaning over a box of papers, and they
rustled loudly under his hand.  He was humming to himself that song she
heard an hour ago in Il Trovatore, that song of passion and love and
tragedy.  It sent a wave of fresh feeling over her.  She could not go
on--could not face him, and say what she must say.  She turned and passed
swiftly from the room, leaving the door open, and hurried down the
staircase.  Eglington heard now, and wheeled round.  He saw the open
door, listened to the rustle of her skirts, knew that she had been there.
He smiled, and said to himself:

"She came to me, as I said she would.  I shall master her--the full
surrender, and then--life will be easy then."

Hylda hurried down the staircase to her room, saw Kate Heaver waiting,
beckoned to her, caught up her opera-cloak, and together they passed down
the staircase to the front door.  Heaver rang a bell, a footman appeared,
and, at a word, called a cab.  A minute later they were ready:

"Snowdon House," Hylda said; and they passed into the night.



The Duchess and her brother, an ex-diplomatist, now deaf and patiently
amiable and garrulous, had met on the doorstep of Snowdon House, and
together they insisted on Lord Windlehurst coming in for a talk.  The two
men had not met for a long time, and the retired official had been one of
Lord Windlehurst's own best appointments in other days.  The Duchess had
the carriage wait in consequence.

The ex-official could hear little, but he had cultivated the habit of
talking constantly and well.  There were some voices, however, which he
could hear more distinctly than others, and Lord Windlehurst's was one of
them--clear, well-modulated, and penetrating.  Sipping brandy and water,
Lord Windlehurst gave his latest quip.  They were all laughing heartily,
when the butler entered the room and said, "Lady Eglington is here, and
wishes to see your Grace."

As the butler left the room, the Duchess turned despairingly to
Windlehurst, who had risen, and was paler than the Duchess.  "It has
come," she said, "oh, it has come!  I can't face it."

"But it doesn't matter about you facing it," Lord Windlehurst rejoined.
"Go to her and help her, Betty.  You know what to do--the one thing."
He took her hand and pressed it.

She dashed the tears from her eyes and drew herself together, while her
brother watched her benevolently.

He had not heard what was said.  Betty had always been impulsive, he
thought to himself, and here was some one in trouble--they all came to
her, and kept her poor.

"Go to bed, Dick," the Duchess said to him, and hurried from the room.
She did not hesitate now.  Windlehurst had put the matter in the right
way.  Her pain was nothing, mere moral cowardice; but Hylda--!

She entered the other room as quickly as rheumatic limbs would permit.
Hylda stood waiting, erect, her eyes gazing blankly before her and rimmed
by dark circles, her face haggard and despairing.

Before the Duchess could reach her, she said in a hoarse whisper: "I have
left him--I have left him.  I have come to you."

With a cry of pity the Duchess would have taken the stricken girl in her
arms, but Hylda held out a shaking hand with the letter in it which had
brought this new woe and this crisis foreseen by Lord Windlehurst.
"There--there it is.  He goes from me to her--to that!"  She thrust the
letter into the Duchess's fingers.  "You knew--you knew!  I saw the look
that passed between you and Windlehurst at the opera.  I understand all
now.  He left the House of Commons with her--and you knew, oh, you knew!
All the world knows--every one knew but me."  She threw up her hands.
"But I've left him--I've left him, for ever."

Now the Duchess had her in her arms, and almost forcibly drew her to a
sofa.  "Darling, my darling," she said, "you must not give way.  It is
not so bad as you think.  You must let me help to make you understand."

Hylda laughed hysterically.  "Not so bad as I think!  Read--read it,"
she said, taking the letter from the Duchess's fingers and holding it
before her face.  "I found it on the staircase.  I could not help but
read it."  She sat and clasped and unclasped her hands in utter misery.
"Oh, the shame of it, the bitter shame of it!  Have I not been a good
wife to him?  Have I not had reason to break my heart?  But I waited,
and I wanted to be good and to do right.  And to-night I was going to try
once more--I felt it in the opera.  I was going to make one last effort
for his sake.  It was for his sake I meant to make it, for I thought him
only hard and selfish, and that he had never loved; and if he only loved,
I thought--"

She broke off, wringing her hands and staring into space, the ghost of
the beautiful figure that had left the Opera House with shining eyes.

The Duchess caught the cold hands.  "Yes, yes, darling, I know.  I
understand.  So does Windlehurst.  He loves you as much as I do.  We know
there isn't much to be got out of life; but we always hoped you would get
more than anybody else."

Hylda shrank, then raised her head, and looked at the Duchess with an
infinite pathos.  "Oh, is it always so--in life?  Is no one true?  Is
every one betrayed sometime?  I would die--yes, a thousand times yes, I
would rather die than bear this.  What do I care for life--it has cheated
me!  I meant well, and I tried to do well, and I was true to him in word
and deed even when I suffered most, even when--"

The Duchess laid a cheek against the burning head.  "I understand, my own
dear.  I understand--altogether."

"But you cannot know," the broken girl replied; "but through everything I
was true; and I have been tempted too when my heart was aching so, when
the days were so empty, the nights so long, and my heart hurt--hurt me.
But now, it is over, everything is done.  You will keep me here--ah, say
you will keep me here till everything can be settled, and I can go away
--far away--far--!"

She stopped with a gasping cry, and her eyes suddenly strained into the
distance, as though a vision of some mysterious thing hung before her.
The Duchess realised that that temptation, which has come to so many
disillusioned mortals, to end it all, to find quiet somehow, somewhere
out in the dark, was upon her.  She became resourceful and persuasively

"But no, my darling," she said, "you are going nowhere.  Here in London
is your place now.  And you must not stay here in my house.  You must go
back to your home.  Your place is there.  For the present, at any rate,
there must be no scandal.  Suspicion is nothing, talk is nothing, and the
world forgets--"

"Oh, I do not care for the world or its forgetting!" the wounded girl
replied.  "What is the world to me!  I wanted my own world, the world of
my four walls, quiet and happy, and free from scandal and shame.  I
wanted love and peace there, and now .  .  .  !"

"You must be guided by those who love you.  You are too young to decide
what is best for yourself.  You must let Windlehurst and me think for
you; and, oh, my darling, you cannot know how much I care for your best

"I cannot, will not, bear the humiliation and the shame.  This letter
here--you see!"

"It is the letter of a woman who has had more affaires than any man in
London.  She is preternaturally clever, my dear--Windlehurst would tell
you so.  The brilliant and unscrupulous, the beautiful and the bad, have
a great advantage in this world.  Eglington was curious, that is all.
It is in the breed of the Eglingtons to go exploring, to experiment."

Hylda started.  Words from the letter Sybil Lady Eglington had left
behind her rushed into her mind: "Experiment, subterfuge, secrecy.
'Reaping where you had not sowed, and gathering where you had not
strawed.' Always experiment, experiment, experiment!"

"I have only been married three years," she moaned.  "Yes, yes, my
darling; but much may happen after three days of married life, and love
may come after twenty years.  The human heart is a strange thing."

"I was patient--I gave him every chance.  He has been false and
shameless.  I will not go on."

The Duchess pressed both hands hard, and made a last effort, looking into
the deep troubled eyes with her own grown almost beautiful with feeling
--the faded world-worn eyes.

"You will go back to-night-at once," she said firmly.  "To-morrow you
will stay in bed till noon-at any rate, till I come.  I promise you that
you shall not be treated with further indignity.  Your friends will stand
by you, the world will be with you, if you do nothing rash, nothing that
forces it to babble and scold.  But you must play its game, my dearest.
I'll swear that the worst has not happened.  She drove him to his club,
and, after a man has had a triumph, a woman will not drive him to his
club if--my darling, you must trust me!  If there must be the great
smash, let it be done in a way that will prevent you being smashed also
in the world's eyes.  You can live, and you will live.  Is there nothing
for you to do?  Is there no one for whom you would do something, who
would be heart-broken if you--if you went mad now?"

Suddenly a great change passed over Hylda.  "Is there no one for whom you
would do something?"  Just as in the desert a question like this had
lifted a man out of a terrible and destroying apathy, so this searching
appeal roused in Hylda a memory and a pledge.  "Is there no one for whom
you would do something?"  Was life, then, all over?  Was her own great
grief all?  Was her bitter shame the end?

She got to her feet tremblingly.  "I will go back," she said slowly and

"Windlehurst will take you home," the Duchess rejoined eagerly.  "My
carriage is at the door."

A moment afterwards Lord Windlehurst took Hylda's hands in his and held
them long.  His old, querulous eyes were like lamps of safety; his smile
had now none of that cynicism with which he had aroused and chastened the
world.  The pitiful understanding of life was there and a consummate
gentleness.  He gave her his arm, and they stepped out into the moonlit
night.  "So peaceful, so bright!" he said, looking round.

"I will come at noon to-morrow," called the Duchess from the doorway.

A light was still shining in Eglington's study when the carriage drove
up.  With a latch-key Hylda admitted herself and her maid.

The storm had broken, the flood had come.  The storm was over, but the
flood swept far and wide.



Hour after hour of sleeplessness.  The silver-tongued clock remorselessly
tinkled the quarters, and Hylda lay and waited for them with a hopeless
strained attention.  In vain she tried devices to produce that monotony
of thought which sometimes brings sleep.  Again and again, as she felt
that sleep was coming at last, the thought of the letter she had found
flashed through her mind with words of fire, and it seemed as if there
had been poured through every vein a subtle irritant.  Just such a
surging, thrilling flood she had felt in the surgeon's chair when she was
a girl and an anesthetic had been given.  But this wave of sensation led
to no oblivion, no last soothing intoxication.  Its current beat against
her heart until she could have cried out from the mere physical pain, the
clamping grip of her trouble.  She withered and grew cold under the
torture of it all--the ruthless spoliation of everything which made life
worth while or the past endurable.

About an hour after she had gone to bed she heard Eglington's step.  It
paused at her door.  She trembled with apprehension lest he should enter.
It was many a day since he had done so, but also she had not heard his
step pause at her door for many a day.  She could not bear to face it all
now; she must have time to think, to plan her course--the last course of
all.  For she knew that the next step must be the last step in her old
life, and towards a new life, whatever that might be.  A great sigh of
relief broke from her as she heard his door open and shut, and silence
fell on everything, that palpable silence which seems to press upon the
night-watcher with merciless, smothering weight.

How terribly active her brain was!  Pictures--it was all vivid pictures,
that awful visualisation of sorrow which, if it continues, breaks the
heart or wrests the mind from its sanity.  If only she did not see!  But
she did see Eglington and the Woman together, saw him look into her eyes,
take her hands, put his arm round her, draw her face to his!  Her heart
seemed as if it must burst, her lips cried out.  With a great effort of
the will she tried to hide from these agonies of the imagination, and
again she would approach those happy confines of sleep, which are the
only refuge to the lacerated heart; and then the weapon of time on the
mantelpiece would clash on the shield of the past, and she was wide awake
again.  At last, in desperation, she got out of bed, hurried to the
fireplace, caught the little sharp-tongued recorder in a nervous grasp,
and stopped it.

As she was about to get into bed again, she saw a pile of letters lying
on the table near her pillow.  In her agitation she had not noticed them,
and the devoted Heaver had not drawn her attention to them.  Now,
however, with a strange premonition, she quickly glanced at the
envelopes.  The last one of all was less aristocratic-looking than the
others; the paper of the envelope was of the poorest, and it had a
foreign look.  She caught it up with an exclamation.  The handwriting was
that of her cousin Lacey.

She got into bed with a mind suddenly swept into a new atmosphere, and
opened the flimsy cover.  Shutting her eyes, she lay still for a moment
--still and vague; she was only conscious of one thing, that a curtain
had dropped on the terrible pictures she had seen, and that her mind was
in a comforting quiet.  Presently she roused herself, and turned the
letter over in her hand.  It was not long--was that because its news was
bad news?  The first chronicles of disaster were usually brief!  She
smoothed the paper out-it had been crumpled and was a little soiled-and
read it swiftly.  It ran:

     DEAR LADY COUSIN--As the poet says, "Man is born to trouble as the
     sparks fly upward," and in Egypt the sparks set the stacks on fire
     oftener than anywhere else, I guess.  She outclasses Mexico as a
     "precious example" in this respect.  You needn't go looking for
     trouble in Mexico; it's waiting for you kindly.  If it doesn't find
     you to-day, well, manana.  But here it comes running like a native
     to his cooking-pot at sunset in Ramadan.  Well, there have been
     "hard trials" for the Saadat.  His cotton-mills were set on fire-
     can't you guess who did it?  And now, down in Cairo, Nahoum runs
     Egypt; for a messenger that got through the tribes worrying us tells
     us that Kaid is sick, and Nahoum the Armenian says, you shall, and
     you shan't, now.  Which is another way of saying, that between us
     and the front door of our happy homes there are rattlesnakes that
     can sting--Nahoum's arm is long, and his traitors are crawling under
     the canvas of our tents!

     I'm not complaining for myself.  I asked for what I've got, and,
     dear Lady Cousin, I put up some cash for it, too, as a man should.
     No, I don't mind for myself, fond as I am of loafing, sort of
     pottering round where the streets are in the hands of a pure police;
     for I've seen more, done more, thought more, up here, than in all my
     life before; and I've felt a country heaving under the touch of one
     of God's men--it gives you minutes that lift you out of the dust and
     away from the crawlers.  And I'd do it all over a thousand times for
     him, and for what I've got out of it.  I've lived.  But, to speak
     right out plain, I don't know how long this machine will run.
     There's been a plant of the worst kind.  Tribes we left friendly
     under a year ago are out against us; cities that were faithful have
     gone under to rebels.  Nahoum has sowed the land with the tale that
     the Saadat means to abolish slavery, to take away the powers of the
     great sheikhs, and to hand the country over to the Turk.  Ebn Ezra
     Bey has proofs of the whole thing, and now at last the Saadat knows
     too late that his work has been spoiled by the only man who could
     spoil it.  The Saadat knows it, but does he rave and tear his hair?
     He says nothing.  He stands up like a rock before the riot of
     treachery and bad luck and all the terrible burden he has to carry
     here.  If he wasn't a Quaker I'd say he had the pride of an
     archangel.  You can bend him, but you can't break him; and it takes
     a lot to bend him.  Men desert, but he says others will come to take
     their place.  And so they do.  It's wonderful, in spite of the holy
     war that's being preached, and all the lies about him sprinkled over
     this part of Africa, how they all fear him, and find it hard to be
     out on the war-path against him.  We should be gorging the vultures
     if he wasn't the wonder he is.  We need boats.  Does he sit down and
     wring his hands?  No, he organises, and builds them--out of scraps.
     Hasn't he enough food for a long siege?  He goes himself to the
     tribes that have stored food in their cities, and haven't yet
     declared against him, and he puts a hand on their hard hearts, and
     takes the sulkiness out of their eyes, and a fleet of ghiassas comes
     down to us loaded with dourha.  The defences of this place are
     nothing.  Does he fold his hands like a man of peace that he is,
     and say, 'Thy will be done'?  Not the Saadat.  He gets two soldier-
     engineers, one an Italian who murdered his wife in Italy twenty
     years ago, and one a British officer that cheated at cards and had
     to go, and we've got defences that'll take some negotiating.  That's
     the kind of man he is; smiling to cheer others when their hearts are
     in their boots, stern like a commander-in-chief when he's got to
     punish, and then he does it like steel; but I've seen him afterwards
     in his tent with a face that looks sixty, and he's got to travel a
     while yet before he's forty.  None of us dares be as afraid as we
     could be, because a look at him would make us so ashamed we'd have
     to commit suicide.  He hopes when no one else would ever hope.  The
     other day I went to his tent to wait for him, and I saw his Bible
     open on the table.  A passage was marked.  It was this:

     "Behold, I have taken out of thy hand the cup of trembling, even the
     dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again: "But
     I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have
     said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over; and thou hast laid
     thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over.

     I'd like to see Nahoum with that cup of trembling in his hand, and
     I've got an idea, too, that it will be there yet.  I don't know how
     it is, but I never can believe the worst will happen to the Saadat.
     Reading those verses put hope into me.  That's why I'm writing to
     you, on the chance of this getting through by a native who is
     stealing down the river with a letter from the Saadat to Nahoum, and
     one to Kaid, and one to the Foreign Minister in London, and one to
     your husband.  If they reach the hands they're meant for, it may be
     we shall pan out here yet.  But there must be display of power; an
     army must be sent, without delay, to show the traitors that the game
     is up.  Five thousand men from Cairo under a good general would do
     it.  Will Nahoum send them?  Does Kaid, the sick man, know?  I'm not
     banking on Kaid.  I think he's on his last legs.  Unless pressure is
     put on him, unless some one takes him by the throat and says: If you
     don't relieve Claridge Pasha and the people with him, you will go to
     the crocodiles, Nahoum won't stir.  So, I am writing to you.
     England can do it.  The lord, your husband, can do it.  England will
     have a nasty stain on her flag if she sees this man go down without
     a hand lifted to save him.  He is worth another Alma to her
     prestige.  She can't afford to see him slaughtered here, where he's
     fighting the fight of civilisation.  You see right through this
     thing, I know, and I don't need to palaver any more about it.  It
     doesn't matter about me.  I've had a lot for my money, and I'm no
     use--or I wouldn't be, if anything happened to the Saadat.  No one
     would drop a knife and fork at the breakfast-table when my obit was
     read out--well, yes, there's one, cute as she can be, but she's lost
     two husbands already, and you can't be hurt so bad twice in the same
     place.  But the Saadat, back him, Hylda--I'll call you that at this
     distance.  Make Nahoum move.  Send four or five thousand men before
     the day comes when famine does its work and they draw the bowstring

     Salaam and salaam, and the post is going out, and there's nothing in
     the morning paper; and, as Aunt Melissa used to say: "Well, so much
     for so much!"  One thing I forgot.  I'm lucky to be writing to you
     at all.  If the Saadat was an old-fashioned overlord, I shouldn't be
     here.  I got into a bad corner three days ago with a dozen Arabs--
     I'd been doing a little work with a friendly tribe all on my own,
     and I almost got caught by this loose lot of fanatics.  I shot
     three, and galloped for it.  I knew the way through the mines
     outside, and just escaped by the skin of my teeth.  Did the Saadat,
     as a matter of discipline, have me shot for cowardice?  Cousin
     Hylda, my heart was in my mouth as I heard them yelling behind me--
     and I never enjoyed a dinner so much in my life.  Would the Saadat
     have run from them?  Say, he'd have stayed and saved his life too.
     Well, give my love to the girls!

                    Your affectionate cousin,

                                        Tom LACEY.

     P.S.-There's no use writing to me.  The letter service is bad.  Send
     a few thousand men by military parcel-post, prepaid, with some red
     seals--majors and colonels from Aldershot will do.  They'll give the
     step to the Gyppies.  T.

Hylda closed her eyes.  A fever had passed from her veins.  Here lay her
duty before her--the redemption of the pledge she had made.  Whatever her
own sorrow, there was work before her; a supreme effort must be made for
another.  Even now it might be too late.  She must have strength for what
she meant to do.  She put the room in darkness, and resolutely banished
thought from her mind.

The sun had been up for hours before she waked.  Eglington had gone to
the Foreign Office.  The morning papers were full of sensational reports
concerning Claridge Pasha and the Soudan.  A Times leader sternly
admonished the Government.



That day the adjournment of the House of Commons was moved "To call
attention to an urgent matter of public importance"--the position of
Claridge Pasha in the Soudan.  Flushed with the success of last night's
performance, stung by the attacks of the Opposition morning papers,
confident in the big majority behind, which had cheered him a few hours
before, viciously resenting the letter he had received from David that
morning, Eglington returned such replies to the questions put to him that
a fire of angry mutterings came from the forces against him.  He might
have softened the growing resentment by a change of manner, but his
intellectual arrogance had control of him for the moment; and he said to
himself that he had mastered the House before, and he would do so now.
Apart from his deadly antipathy to his half-brother, and the gain to
himself--to his credit, the latter weighed with him not so much, so set
was he on a stubborn course--if David disappeared for ever, there was at
bottom a spirit of anti-expansion, of reaction against England's world-
wide responsibilities.  He had no largeness of heart or view concerning
humanity.  He had no inherent greatness, no breadth of policy.  With
less responsibility taken, there would be less trouble, national and
international--that was his point of view; that had been his view long
ago at the meeting at Heddington; and his weak chief had taken it,
knowing nothing of the personal elements behind.

The disconcerting factor in the present bitter questioning in the House
was, that it originated on his own side.  It was Jasper Kimber who had
launched the questions, who moved the motion for adjournment.  Jasper had
had a letter from Kate Heaver that morning early, which sent him to her,
and he had gone to the House to do what he thought to be his duty.  He
did it boldly, to the joy of the Opposition, and with a somewhat sullen
support from many on his own side.  Now appeared Jasper's own inner
disdain of the man who had turned his coat for office.  It gave a lead to
a latent feeling among members of the ministerial party, of distrust, and
of suspicion that they were the dupes of a mind of abnormal cleverness
which, at bottom, despised them.

With flashing eyes and set lips, vigilant and resourceful, Eglington
listened to Jasper Kimber's opening remarks.

By unremitting industry Jasper had made a place for himself in the House.
The humour and vitality of his speeches, and his convincing advocacy of
the cause of the "factory folk," had gained him a hearing.  Thickset,
under middle size, with an arm like a giant and a throat like a bull,
he had strong common sense, and he gave the impression that he would wear
his heart out for a good friend or a great cause, but that if he chose to
be an enemy he would be narrow, unrelenting, and persistent.  For some
time the House had been aware that he had more than a gift for criticism
of the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs.

His speech began almost stumblingly, his h's ran loose, and his grammar
became involved, but it was seen that he meant business, that he had that
to say which would give anxiety to the Government, that he had a case
wherein were the elements of popular interest and appeal, and that he was
thinking and speaking as thousands outside the House would think and

He had waited for this hour.  Indirectly he owed to Claridge Pasha all
that he had become.  The day in which David knocked him down saw the
depths of his degradation reached, and, when he got up, it was to start
on a new life uncertainly, vaguely at first, but a new life for all that.
He knew, from a true source, of Eglington's personal hatred of Claridge
Pasha, though he did not guess their relationship; and all his interest
was enlisted for the man who had, as he knew, urged Kate Heaver to marry
himself--and Kate was his great ambition now.  Above and beyond these
personal considerations was a real sense of England's duty to the man who
was weaving the destiny of a new land.

"It isn't England's business?" he retorted, in answer to an interjection
from a faithful soul behind the ministerial Front Bench.  "Well, it
wasn't the business of the Good Samaritan to help the man that had been
robbed and left for dead by the wayside; but he did it.  As to David
Claridge's work, some have said that--I've no doubt it's been said in the
Cabinet, and it is the thing the Under-Secretary would say as naturally
as he would flick a fly from his boots--that it's a generation too soon.
Who knows that?  I suppose there was those that thought John the Baptist
was baptising too soon, that Luther preached too soon, and Savonarola was
in too great a hurry, all because he met his death and his enemies
triumphed--and Galileo and Hampden and Cromwell and John Howard were all
too soon.  Who's to be judge of that?  God Almighty puts it into some
men's minds to work for a thing that's a great, and maybe an impossible,
thing, so far as the success of the moment is concerned.  Well, for a
thing that has got to be done some time, the seed has to be sown, and
it's always sown by men like Claridge Pasha, who has shown millions of
people--barbarians and half-civilised alike--what a true lover of the
world can do.  God knows, I think he might have stayed and found a cause
in England, but he elected to go to the ravaging Soudan, and he is
England there, the best of it.  And I know Claridge Pasha--from his youth
up I have seen him, and I stand here to bear witness of what the working
men of England will say to-morrow.  Right well the noble lord yonder
knows that what I say is true.  He has known it for years.  Claridge
Pasha would never have been in his present position, if the noble lord
had not listened to the enemies of Claridge Pasha and of this country, in
preference to those who know and hold the truth as I tell it here to-day.
I don't know whether the noble lord has repented or not; but I do say
that his Government will rue it, if his answer is not the one word
'Intervention!'  Mistaken, rash or not, dreamer if you like, Claridge
Pasha should be relieved now, and his policy discussed afterwards.  I
don't envy the man who holds a contrary opinion; he'll be ashamed of it
some day.  But"--he pointed towards Eglington--"but there sits the
minister in whose hands his fate has been.  Let us hope that this speech
of mine needn't have been made, and that I've done injustice to his
patriotism and to the policy he will announce."

"A set-back, a sharp set-back," said Lord Windlehurst, in the Peers'
Gallery, as the cheers of the Opposition and of a good number of
ministerialists sounded through the Chamber.  There were those on the
Treasury Bench who saw danger ahead.  There was an attempt at a
conference, but Kimber's seconder only said a half-dozen words, and sat
down, and Eglington had to rise before any definite confidences could be
exchanged.  One word only he heard behind him as he got up.  It was the
word, "Temporise," and it came from the Prime Minister.

Eglington was in no mood for temporising.  Attack only nerved him.  He
was a good and ruthless fighter; and last night's intoxication of success
was still in his brain.  He did not temporise.  He did not leave a way of
retreat open for the Prime Minister, who would probably wind up the
debate.  He fought with skill, but he fought without gloves, and the
House needed gentle handling.  He had the gift of effective speech to a
rare degree, and when he liked he could be insinuating and witty, but he
had not genuine humour or good feeling, and the House knew it.  In debate
he was biting, resourceful, and unscrupulous.  He made the fatal mistake
of thinking that intellect and gifts of fence, followed by a brilliant
peroration, in which he treated the commonplaces of experienced minds as
though they were new discoveries and he was their Columbus, could
accomplish anything.  He had never had a political crisis, but one had
come now.

In his reply he first resorted to arguments of high politics, historical,
informative, and, in a sense, commanding; indeed, the House became
restless under what seemed a piece of intellectual dragooning.  Signs of
impatience appeared on his own side, and, when he ventured on a solemn
warning about hampering ministers who alone knew the difficulties of
diplomacy and the danger of wounding the susceptibilities of foreign
and friendly countries, the silence was broken by a voice that said
sneeringly, "The kid-glove Government!"

Then he began to lose place with the Chamber.  He was conscious of it,
and shifted his ground, pointing out the dangers of doing what the other
nations interested in Egypt were not prepared to do.

"Have you asked them?  Have you pressed them?" was shouted across
the House.  Eglington ignored the interjections.  "Answer!  Answer!"
was called out angrily, but he shrugged a shoulder and continued his
argument.  If a man insisted on using a flying-machine before the
principle was fully mastered and applied--if it could be mastered and
applied--it must not be surprising if he was killed.  Amateurs sometimes
took preposterous risks without the advice of the experts.  If Claridge
Pasha had asked the advice of the English Government, or of any of the
Chancellories of Europe, as to his incursions into the Soudan and his
premature attempts at reform, he would have received expert advice that
civilisation had not advanced to that stage in this portion of the world
which would warrant his experiments.  It was all very well for one man to
run vast risks and attempt quixotic enterprises, but neither he nor his
countrymen had any right to expect Europe to embroil itself on his
particular account.

At this point he was met by angry cries of dissent, which did not come
from the Opposition alone.  His lips set, he would not yield.  The
Government could not hold itself responsible for Claridge Pasha's relief,
nor in any sense for his present position.  However, from motives of
humanity, it would make representations in the hope that the Egyptian
Government would act; but it was not improbable, in view of past
experiences of Claridge Pasha, that he would extricate himself from his
present position, perhaps had done so already.  Sympathy and sentiment
were natural and proper manifestations of human society, but governments
were, of necessity, ruled by sterner considerations.  The House must
realise that the Government could not act as though it were wholly a free
agent, or as if its every move would not be matched by another move on
the part of another Power or Powers.

Then followed a brilliant and effective appeal to his own party to
trust the Government, to credit it with feeling and with a due regard
for English prestige and the honour brought to it by Claridge Pasha's
personal qualities, whatever might be thought of his crusading
enterprises.  The party must not fall into the trap of playing the game
of the Opposition.  Then, with some supercilious praise of the "worthy
sentiments" of Jasper Kimber's speech and a curt depreciation of its
reasoning, he declared that: "No Government can be ruled by clamour.  The
path to be trodden by this Government will be lighted by principles of
progress and civilisation, humanity and peace, the urbane power of
reason, and the persuasive influence of just consideration for the rights
of others, rather than the thunder and the threat of the cannon and the

He sat down amid the cheers of a large portion of his party, for the end
of his speech had been full of effective if meretricious appeal.  But the
debate that followed showed that the speech had been a failure.  He had
not uttered one warm or human word concerning Claridge Pasha, and it was
felt and said, that no pledge had been given to insure the relief of the
man who had caught the imagination of England.

The debate was fierce and prolonged.  Eglington would not agree to any
modification of his speech, to any temporising.  Arrogant and insistent,
he had his way, and, on a division, the Government was saved by a mere
handful of votes--votes to save the party, not to indorse Eglington's
speech or policy.

Exasperated and with jaw set, but with a defiant smile, Eglington drove
straight home after the House rose.  He found Hylda in the library with
an evening paper in her hands.  She had read and reread his speech, and
had steeled herself for "the inevitable hour," to this talk which would
decide for ever their fate and future.

Eglington entered the room smiling.  He remembered the incident of the
night before, when she came to his study and then hurriedly retreated.
He had been defiant and proudly disdainful at the House and on the way
home; but in his heart of hearts he was conscious of having failed to
have his own way; and, like such men, he wanted assurance that he could
not err, and he wanted sympathy.  Almost any one could have given it to
him, and he had a temptation to seek that society which was his the
evening before; but he remembered that she was occupied where he could
not reach her, and here was Hylda, from whom he had been estranged,
but who must surely have seen by now that at Hamley she had been
unreasonable, and that she must trust his judgment.  So absorbed was he
with self and the failure of his speech, that, for a moment, he forgot
the subject of it, and what that subject meant to them both.

"What do you think of my speech, Hylda?" he asked, as he threw himself
into a chair.  "I see you have been reading it.  Is it a full report?"

She handed the paper over.  "Quite full," she answered evenly.

He glanced down the columns.  "Sentimentalists!" he said as his eye
caught an interjection.  "Cant!" he added.  Then he looked at Hylda, and
remembered once again on whom and what his speech had been made.  He saw
that her face was very pale.

"What do you think of my speech?" he repeated stubbornly.

"If you think an answer necessary, I regard it as wicked and
unpatriotic," she answered firmly.

"Yes, I suppose you would," he rejoined bitingly.  She got to her feet
slowly, a flush passing over her face.  "If you think I would, did you
not think that a great many other people would think so too, and for the
same reason?" she asked, still evenly, but very slowly.  "Not for the
same reason," he rejoined in a low, savage voice.

"You do not treat me well," she said, with a voice that betrayed no hurt,
no indignation.  It seemed to state a fact deliberately; that was all.

"No, please," she added quickly, as she saw him rise to his feet with
anger trembling at his lips.  "Do not say what is on your tongue to say.
Let us speak quietly to-night.  It is better; and I am tired of strife,
spoken and unspoken.  I have got beyond that.  But I want to speak of
what you did to-day in Parliament."

"Well, you have said it was wicked and unpatriotic," he rejoined, sitting
down again and lighting a cigar, in an attempt to be composed.

"What you said was that; but I am concerned with what you did.  Did your
speech mean that you would not press the Egyptian Government to relieve
Claridge Pasha at once?"

"Is that the conclusion you draw from my words?" he asked.

"Yes; but I wish to know beyond doubt if that is what you mean the
country to believe?"

"It is what I mean you to believe, my dear."

She shrank from the last two words, but still went on quietly, though her
eyes burned and she shivered.  "If you mean that you will do nothing, it
will ruin you and your Government," she answered.  "Kimber was right,

"Kimber was inspired from here," he interjected sharply.

She put her hand upon herself.  "Do you think I would intrigue against
you?  Do you think I would stoop to intrigue?" she asked, a hand
clasping and unclasping a bracelet on her wrist, her eyes averted, for
very shame that he should think the thought he had uttered.

"It came from this house--the influence," he rejoined.

"I cannot say.  It is possible," she answered; "but you cannot think that
I connive with my maid against you.  I think Kimber has reasons of his
own for acting as he did to-day.  He speaks for many besides himself; and
he spoke patriotically this afternoon.  He did his duty."

"And I did not?  Do you think I act alone?"

"You did not do your duty, and I think that you are not alone
responsible.  That is why I hope the Government will be influenced by
public feeling."  She came a step nearer to him.  "I ask you to relieve
Claridge Pasha at any cost.  He is your father's son.  If you do not,
when all the truth is known, you will find no shelter from the storm
that will break over you."

"You will tell--the truth?"

"I do not know yet what I shall do," she answered.  "It will depend on
you; but it is your duty to tell the truth, not mine.  That does not
concern me; but to save Claridge Pasha does concern me."

"So I have known."

Her heart panted for a moment with a wild indignation; but she quieted
herself, and answered almost calmly: "If you refuse to do that which is
honourable--and human, then I shall try to do it for you while yet I bear
your name.  If you will not care for your family honour, then I shall try
to do so.  If you will not do your duty, then I will try to do it for
you."  She looked him determinedly in the eyes.  "Through you I have lost
nearly all I cared to keep in the world.  I should like to feel that in
this one thing you acted honourably."

He sprang to his feet, bursting with anger, in spite of the inward
admonition that much that he prized was in danger, that any breach with
Hylda would be disastrous.  But self-will and his native arrogance
overruled the monitor within, and he said: "Don't preach to me, don't
play the martyr.  You will do this and you will do that!  You will save
my honour and the family name!  You will relieve Claridge Pasha, you will
do what Governments choose not to do; you will do what your husband
chooses not to do--Well, I say that you will do what your husband
chooses to do, or take the consequences."

"I think I will take the consequences," she answered.  "I will save
Claridge Pasha, if it is possible.  It is no boast.  I will do it, if it
can be done at all, if it is God's will that it should be done; and in
doing it I shall be conscious that you and I will do nothing together
again--never!  But that will not stop me; it will make me do it, the last
right thing, before the end."

She was so quiet, so curiously quiet.  Her words had a strange solemnity,
a tragic apathy.  What did it mean?  He had gone too far, as he had done
before.  He had blundered viciously, as he had blundered before.

She spoke again before he could collect his thoughts and make reply.

"I did not ask for too much, I think, and I could have forgiven and
forgotten all the hurts you have given me, if it were not for one thing.
You have been unjust, hard, selfish, and suspicious.  Suspicious--of me!
No one else in all the world ever thought of me what you have thought.
I have done all I could.  I have honourably kept the faith.  But you have
spoiled it all.  I have no memory that I care to keep.  It is stained.
My eyes can never bear to look upon the past again, the past with you--

She turned to leave the room.  He caught her arm.  "You will wait till
you hear what I have to say," he cried in anger.  Her last words had
stung him so, her manner was so pitilessly scornful.  It was as though
she looked down on him from a height.  His old arrogance fought for
mastery over his apprehension.  What did she know?  What did she mean?
In any case he must face it out, be strong--and merciful and affectionate

"Wait, Hylda," he said.  "We must talk this out."

She freed her arm.  "There is nothing to talk out," she answered.
"So far as our relations are concerned, all reason for talk is gone."
She drew the fatal letter from the sash at her waist.  "You will think so
too when you read this letter again."  She laid it on the table beside
him, and, as he opened and glanced at it, she left the room.

He stood with the letter in his hand, dumfounded.  "Good God!" he said,
and sank into a chair.



Faith withdrew her eyes from Hylda's face, and they wandered helplessly
over the room.  They saw, yet did not see; and even in her trouble there
was some subconscious sense softly commenting on the exquisite refinement
and gentle beauty which seemed to fill the room; but the only definite
objects which the eyes registered at the moment were the flowers filling
every corner.  Hylda had been lightly adjusting a clump of roses when she
entered; and she had vaguely noticed how pale was the face that bent over
the flowers, how pale and yet how composed--as she had seen a Quaker
face, after some sorrow had passed over it, and left it like a quiet
sea in the sun, when wreck and ruin were done.  It was only a swift
impression, for she could think of but one thing, David and his safety.
She had come to Hylda, she said, because of Lord Eglington's position,
and she could not believe that the Government would see David's work
undone and David killed by the slave-dealers of Africa.

Hylda's reply had given her no hope that Eglington would keep the promise
he had made that evening long ago when her father had come upon them by
the old mill, and because of which promise she had forgiven Eglington so
much that was hard to forgive.  Hylda had spoken with sorrowful decision,
and then this pause had come, in which Faith tried to gain composure and
strength.  There was something strangely still in the two women.  From
the far past, through Quaker ancestors, there had come to Hylda now this
grey mist of endurance and self-control and austere reserve.  Yet behind
it all, beneath it all, a wild heart was beating.

Presently, as they looked into each other's eyes, and Faith dimly
apprehended something of Hylda's distress and its cause, Hylda leaned
over and spasmodically pressed her hand.

"It is so, Faith," she said.  "They will do nothing.  International
influences are too strong."  She paused.  "The Under-Secretary for
Foreign Affairs will do nothing; but yet we must hope.  Claridge Pasha
has saved himself in the past; and he may do so now, even though
it is all ten times worse.  Then, there is another way.  Nahoum Pasha can
save him, if he can be saved.  And I am going to Egypt--to Nahoum."

Faith's face blanched.  Something of the stark truth swept into her
brain.  She herself had suffered--her own life had been maimed, it had
had its secret bitterness.  Her love for her sister's son was that of a
mother, sister, friend combined, and he was all she had in life.  That he
lived, that she might cherish the thought of him living, was the one
thing she had; and David must be saved, if that might be; but this girl
--was she not a girl, ten years younger than herself?--to go to Egypt
to do--what?  She herself lived out of the world, but she knew the world!
To go to Egypt, and--"Thee will not go to Egypt.  What can thee do?" she
pleaded, something very like a sob in her voice.  "Thee is but a woman,
and David would not be saved at such a price, and I would not have him
saved so.  Thee will not go.  Say thee will not.  He is all God has left
to me in life; but thee to go--ah, no!  It is a bitter world--and what
could thee do?"

Hylda looked at her reflectively.  Should she tell Faith all, and take
her to Egypt?  No, she could not take her without telling her all, and
that was impossible now.  There might come a time when this wise and
tender soul might be taken into the innermost chambers, when all the
truth might be known; but the secret of David's parentage was Eglington's
concern most of all, and she would not speak now; and what was between
Nahoum and David was David's concern; and she had kept his secret all
these years.  No, Faith might not know now, and might not come with her.
On this mission she must go alone.

Hylda rose to her feet, still keeping hold of Faith's hand.  "Go back to
Hamley and wait there," she said, in a colourless voice.  "You can do
nothing; it may be I can do much.  Whatever can be done I can do, since
England will not act.  Pray for his safety.  It is all you can do.  It is
given to some to work, to others to pray.  I must work now."

She led Faith towards the door; she could not endure more; she must hold
herself firm for the journey and the struggle before her.  If she broke
down now she could not go forward; and Faith's presence roused in her an
emotion almost beyond control.

At the door she took both of Faith's hands in hers, and kissed her cheek.
"It is your place to stay; you will see that it is best.  Good-bye," she
added hurriedly, and her eyes were so blurred that she could scarcely see
the graceful, demure figure pass into the sunlit street.

That afternoon Lord Windlehurst entered the Duchess of Snowdon's presence
hurried and excited.  She started on seeing his face.

"What has happened?" she asked breathlessly.  "She is gone," he
answered.  "Our girl has gone to Egypt."

The Duchess almost staggered to her feet.  "Windlehurst--gone!" she

"I called to see her.  Her ladyship had gone into the country, the
footman said.  I saw the butler, a faithful soul, who would die--or clean
the area steps--for her.  He was discreet; but he knew what you and I are
to her.  It was he got the tickets--for Marseilles and Egypt."

The Duchess began to cry silently.  Big tears ran down a face from which
the glow of feeling had long fled, but her eyes were sad enough.

"Gone--gone!  It is the end!" was all she could say.  Lord Windlehurst
frowned, though his eyes were moist.  "We must act at once.  You must go
to Egypt, Betty.  You must catch her at Marseilles.  Her boat does not
sail for three days.  She thought it went sooner, as it was advertised to
do.  It is delayed--I've found that out.  You can start to-night, and--
and save the situation.  You will do it, Betty?"

"I will do anything you say, as I have always done."  She dried her eyes.

"She is a good girl.  We must do all we can.  I'll arrange everything for
you myself.  I've written this paragraph to go into the papers to-morrow
morning: 'The Duchess of Snowdon, accompanied by Lady Eglington, left
London last night for the Mediterranean via Calais, to be gone for two
months or more.'  That is simple and natural.  I'll see Eglington.  He
must make no fuss.  He thinks she has gone to Hamley, so the butler says.
There, it's all clear.  Your work is cut out, Betty, and I know you will
do it as no one else can."

"Oh, Windlehurst," she answered, with a hand clutching at his arm, "if we
fail, it will kill me."

"If she fails, it will kill her," he answered, "and she is very young.
What is in her mind, who can tell?  But she thinks she can help Claridge
somehow.  We must save her, Betty."

"I used to think you had no real feeling, Windlehurst.  You didn't show
it," she said in a low voice.  "Ah, that was because you had too much,"
he answered.  "I had to wait till you had less."  He took out his watch.


Allah hu Achbar----God is most Great.
Al'mah----Female professional singers, signifying "a learned female."
Ardab----A measure equivalent to five English bushels.

Backsheesh----Tip, douceur.
Balass----Earthen vessel for carrying water.
Bismillah----In the name of God.
Bowdb----A doorkeeper.

Dahabieh----A Nile houseboat with large lateen sails.
Darabukkeh----A drum made of a skin stretched over an earthenware funnel.

Effendina----Most noble.
El Azhar----The Arab University at Cairo.

Fedddn----A measure of land representing about an acre.
Fellah----The Egyptian peasant.

Ghiassa----Small boat.

Hasheesh----Leaves of hemp.

Inshallah----God willing.

Kdnoon----A musical instrument like a dulcimer.
Kavass----An orderly.
Kemengeh----A cocoanut fiddle.
Khamsin----A hot wind of Egypt and the Soudan.

Kourbash----A whip, often made of rhinoceros hide.

La ilaha illa-llah----There is no deity but God.

Malaish----No matter.
Mastaba----A bench.
Medjidie----A Turkish Order.
Mooshrabieh----Lattice window.
Moufettish----High Steward.
Mudir----The Governor of a
Mudirieh, or province.
Muezzin----The sheikh of the mosque who calls to prayer.

Narghileh----A Persian pipe.
Nebool----A quarter-staff.

Ramadan----The Mahommedan season of fasting.

Saadat-el-bdsha----Excellency Pasha.
Sakkia----The Persian water-wheel.
Salaam----Eastern salutation.
Sheikh-el-beled----Head of a village.

Tarboosh----A Turkish turban.

Ulema----Learned men.

Wakf----Mahommedan Court dealing with succession, etc.
Welee----A holy man or saint.

Yashmak----A veil for the lower part of the face.
Yelek----A long vest or smock.


******* This file should be named gp92w10.txt or *******

Corrected EDITIONS of our eBooks get a new NUMBER, gp92w11.txt
VERSIONS based on separate sources get new LETTER, gp92w10a.txt

This eBook was produced by David Widger <>

Project Gutenberg eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the US
unless a copyright notice is included.  Thus, we usually do not
keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.

We are now trying to release all our eBooks one year in advance
of the official release dates, leaving time for better editing.
Please be encouraged to tell us about any error or corrections,
even years after the official publication date.

Please note neither this listing nor its contents are final til
midnight of the last day of the month of any such announcement.
The official release date of all Project Gutenberg eBooks is at
Midnight, Central Time, of the last day of the stated month.  A
preliminary version may often be posted for suggestion, comment
and editing by those who wish to do so.

Most people start at our Web sites at: or

These Web sites include award-winning information about Project
Gutenberg, including how to donate, how to help produce our new
eBooks, and how to subscribe to our email newsletter (free!).

Those of you who want to download any eBook before announcement
can get to them as follows, and just download by date.  This is
also a good way to get them instantly upon announcement, as the
indexes our cataloguers produce obviously take a while after an
announcement goes out in the Project Gutenberg Newsletter. or

Or /etext02, 01, 00, 99, 98, 97, 96, 95, 94, 93, 92, 92, 91 or 90

Just search by the first five letters of the filename you want,
as it appears in our Newsletters.

Information about Project Gutenberg (one page)

We produce about two million dollars for each hour we work.  The
time it takes us, a rather conservative estimate, is fifty hours
to get any eBook selected, entered, proofread, edited, copyright
searched and analyzed, the copyright letters written, etc.   Our
projected audience is one hundred million readers.  If the value
per text is nominally estimated at one dollar then we produce $2
million dollars per hour in 2002 as we release over 100 new text
files per month:  1240 more eBooks in 2001 for a total of 4000+
We are already on our way to trying for 2000 more eBooks in 2002
If they reach just 1-2% of the world's population then the total
will reach over half a trillion eBooks given away by year's end.

The Goal of Project Gutenberg is to Give Away 1 Trillion eBooks!
This is ten thousand titles each to one hundred million readers,
which is only about 4% of the present number of computer users.

Here is the briefest record of our progress (* means estimated):

eBooks Year Month

    1  1971 July
   10  1991 January
  100  1994 January
 1000  1997 August
 1500  1998 October
 2000  1999 December
 2500  2000 December
 3000  2001 November
 4000  2001 October/November
 6000  2002 December*
 9000  2003 November*
10000  2004 January*

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation has been created
to secure a future for Project Gutenberg into the next millennium.

We need your donations more than ever!

As of February, 2002, contributions are being solicited from people
and organizations in: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut,
Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois,
Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts,
Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New
Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio,
Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South
Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West
Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

We have filed in all 50 states now, but these are the only ones
that have responded.

As the requirements for other states are met, additions to this list
will be made and fund raising will begin in the additional states.
Please feel free to ask to check the status of your state.

In answer to various questions we have received on this:

We are constantly working on finishing the paperwork to legally
request donations in all 50 states.  If your state is not listed and
you would like to know if we have added it since the list you have,
just ask.

While we cannot solicit donations from people in states where we are
not yet registered, we know of no prohibition against accepting
donations from donors in these states who approach us with an offer to

International donations are accepted, but we don't know ANYTHING about
how to make them tax-deductible, or even if they CAN be made
deductible, and don't have the staff to handle it even if there are

Donations by check or money order may be sent to:

Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
PMB 113
1739 University Ave.
Oxford, MS 38655-4109

Contact us if you want to arrange for a wire transfer or payment
method other than by check or money order.

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation has been approved by
the US Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) organization with EIN
[Employee Identification Number] 64-622154.  Donations are
tax-deductible to the maximum extent permitted by law.  As fund-raising
requirements for other states are met, additions to this list will be
made and fund-raising will begin in the additional states.

We need your donations more than ever!

You can get up to date donation information online at:


If you can't reach Project Gutenberg,
you can always email directly to:

Michael S. Hart <>

Prof. Hart will answer or forward your message.

We would prefer to send you information by email.

**The Legal Small Print**

(Three Pages)

Why is this "Small Print!" statement here? You know: lawyers.
They tell us you might sue us if there is something wrong with
your copy of this eBook, even if you got it for free from
someone other than us, and even if what's wrong is not our
fault. So, among other things, this "Small Print!" statement
disclaims most of our liability to you. It also tells you how
you may distribute copies of this eBook if you want to.

By using or reading any part of this PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm
eBook, you indicate that you understand, agree to and accept
this "Small Print!" statement. If you do not, you can receive
a refund of the money (if any) you paid for this eBook by
sending a request within 30 days of receiving it to the person
you got it from. If you received this eBook on a physical
medium (such as a disk), you must return it with your request.

This PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm eBook, like most PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm eBooks,
is a "public domain" work distributed by Professor Michael S. Hart
through the Project Gutenberg Association (the "Project").
Among other things, this means that no one owns a United States copyright
on or for this work, so the Project (and you!) can copy and
distribute it in the United States without permission and
without paying copyright royalties. Special rules, set forth
below, apply if you wish to copy and distribute this eBook
under the "PROJECT GUTENBERG" trademark.

Please do not use the "PROJECT GUTENBERG" trademark to market
any commercial products without permission.

To create these eBooks, the Project expends considerable
efforts to identify, transcribe and proofread public domain
works. Despite these efforts, the Project's eBooks and any
medium they may be on may contain "Defects". Among other
things, Defects may take the form of incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other
intellectual property infringement, a defective or damaged
disk or other eBook medium, a computer virus, or computer
codes that damage or cannot be read by your equipment.

But for the "Right of Replacement or Refund" described below,
[1] Michael Hart and the Foundation (and any other party you may
receive this eBook from as a PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm eBook) disclaims
all liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including

If you discover a Defect in this eBook within 90 days of
receiving it, you can receive a refund of the money (if any)
you paid for it by sending an explanatory note within that
time to the person you received it from. If you received it
on a physical medium, you must return it with your note, and
such person may choose to alternatively give you a replacement
copy. If you received it electronically, such person may
choose to alternatively give you a second opportunity to
receive it electronically.


Some states do not allow disclaimers of implied warranties or
the exclusion or limitation of consequential damages, so the
above disclaimers and exclusions may not apply to you, and you
may have other legal rights.

You will indemnify and hold Michael Hart, the Foundation,
and its trustees and agents, and any volunteers associated
with the production and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm
texts harmless, from all liability, cost and expense, including
legal fees, that arise directly or indirectly from any of the
following that you do or cause:  [1] distribution of this eBook,
[2] alteration, modification, or addition to the eBook,
or [3] any Defect.

You may distribute copies of this eBook electronically, or by
disk, book or any other medium if you either delete this
"Small Print!" and all other references to Project Gutenberg,

[1]  Only give exact copies of it.  Among other things, this
     requires that you do not remove, alter or modify the
     eBook or this "small print!" statement.  You may however,
     if you wish, distribute this eBook in machine readable
     binary, compressed, mark-up, or proprietary form,
     including any form resulting from conversion by word
     processing or hypertext software, but only so long as

     [*]  The eBook, when displayed, is clearly readable, and
          does *not* contain characters other than those
          intended by the author of the work, although tilde
          (~), asterisk (*) and underline (_) characters may
          be used to convey punctuation intended by the
          author, and additional characters may be used to
          indicate hypertext links; OR

     [*]  The eBook may be readily converted by the reader at
          no expense into plain ASCII, EBCDIC or equivalent
          form by the program that displays the eBook (as is
          the case, for instance, with most word processors);

     [*]  You provide, or agree to also provide on request at
          no additional cost, fee or expense, a copy of the
          eBook in its original plain ASCII form (or in EBCDIC
          or other equivalent proprietary form).

[2]  Honor the eBook refund and replacement provisions of this
     "Small Print!" statement.

[3]  Pay a trademark license fee to the Foundation of 20% of the
     gross profits you derive calculated using the method you
     already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  If you
     don't derive profits, no royalty is due.  Royalties are
     payable to "Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation"
     the 60 days following each date you prepare (or were
     legally required to prepare) your annual (or equivalent
     periodic) tax return.  Please contact us beforehand to
     let us know your plans and to work out the details.

Project Gutenberg is dedicated to increasing the number of
public domain and licensed works that can be freely distributed
in machine readable form.

The Project gratefully accepts contributions of money, time,
public domain materials, or royalty free copyright licenses.
Money should be paid to the:
"Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation."

If you are interested in contributing scanning equipment or
software or other items, please contact Michael Hart at:

[Portions of this eBook's header and trailer may be reprinted only
when distributed free of all fees.  Copyright (C) 2001, 2002 by
Michael S. Hart.  Project Gutenberg is a TradeMark and may not be
used in any sales of Project Gutenberg eBooks or other materials be
they hardware or software or any other related product without
express permission.]



This file was acquired from Project Gutenberg, and it is in the public domain. It is re-distributed here as a part of the Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts ( by Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.) for the purpose of freely sharing, distributing, and making available works of great literature. Its Infomotions unique identifier is etext6265, and it should be available from the following URL:

Infomotions, Inc.

Infomotions Man says, "Give back to the 'Net."