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not of his making. He was wax in her hands, plastic to her moulding. Sometimes she was sorry for him and a little ashamed of herself. Then she gave him a music lesson or lectured him gravely on his shortcomings. But from first to last he was nothing to her but a stop-gap. His devotion had the smallest of reward.

The weeks went by. Gabriel Stanton coming and going, staying always at the local hotel. Ever more secure in his position with her, but never taking advantage of it.

"He is naturally of a cold nature," she argued. And once her confidant was Peter Kennedy and she compared the two of them. This was in early days, before her treatment of Peter had subdued him.

"What's he afraid of?" Peter asked brusquely.

"Until the decree has been made absolute I am not free."

"So what he is afraid of is the King's Proctor?"


"His precious respectability, the great house of Stanton."

"You take it all wrong, you don't understand. How should you?"

"Don't I? I wish I'd half his chances."

"You are really not in the same category of men. It is banal—I have never fully realised the value of a banal phrase before, but you are 'not fit to wipe the mud off his shoes.'"