Page:Court Royal.djvu/335

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RETRIBUTION

on the ground. For a moment he needed silence, to recover that command over himself which he felt was slipping from him. Lazarus said nothing. His face was perplexed with contending emotions—hate, surprise, disappointment.

‘Mr. Lazarus, take up that stick. It is a sword-cane. I pierced your heart once with the deadliest of thrusts. I will stand here, or anywhere you like, and give you full and free leave to run me through the heart with that needle blade. No one will suspect you. No one will suppose but that I fell by my own hand, unable to endure the humiliation of witnessing the ruin of my house.’

The Jew stooped, picked up the sword-cane, and drew the weapon. It was fine, keen, and sharply pointed. He looked furtively at Lord Saltcombe, who unfolded his arms, and stood before him motionless, beside a tree.

The Jew’s fingers tingled as he held the sword. He turned it, and it flickered in the evening light. In the button-hole by the heart of the Marquess was a red rose. The Jew’s blood bounded at the thought that with a thrust he could bring forth something redder there than that rose. But he re-sheathed the blade and shook his head.

‘That,’ said he, ‘would be insufficient. It would be too quickly over. Take back your sword-cane. I have not done with you yet.’

‘You have refused me a favour, for which I would have thanked you,’ said the Marquess, coldly.

‘Because I knew it would be a favour,’ answered Lazarus venomously, ‘therefore I refused it.’


CHAPTER XLVI.
E TENEBRIS LUX.

In the evening the General came into Lord Saltcombe’s room. The old man was looking haggard. His grey moustache was not smooth, as usual, but looked like ragged lichen. The spring and strength seemed taken out of him. Lord Saltcombe was pacing the room with arms folded. Lord Ronald put his hand through his nephew’s arm and paced the floor with him, without speaking. After several minutes’ silence, the General said, ‘Your uncle Edward leaves to-morrow. It is of no use