Could it be believed that it was the
Chieftain who was the Editor, after all!
That short, fat, undignified, commonplace little man!
“Not in the least the type,”-so
Ron had pronounced, in his youthful arrogance, “No
one would ever suspect you of being literary!”
so saucy Margot had declared to his face. She
blushed at the remembrance of the words, blushed afresh,
as, one after another, a dozen memories rushed through
her brain. That afternoon by the tarn, for example,
when she had summoned courage to confess her scheme,
and he had lain prone on the grass, helpless and shaken
No wonder that he had laughed! but
oh, the wickedness, the duplicity of the wretch, to
breathe no word of her mistake, but promptly set to
work to weave a fresh plot on his own account!
This was the reason why he had extracted a promise
that George was not to be told of Ron’s ambition
during his holiday, feigning an anxiety for his brother’s
peace of mind, which he was in reality doing his best
to destroy! This was the explanation of everything
that had seemed mysterious and contradictory.
He had been laughing in his sleeve all the time he
had pretended to help!
George Elgood listened with a mingling
of amaze, amusement, and tenderness to the hidden
history of the weeks at Glenaire. Being in the
frame of mind when everything that Margot did seemed
perfect in his eyes, he felt nothing but admiration
for her efforts on her brother’s behalf.
It was an ingenious, unselfish little
scheme, and the manner in which she had laid it bare
to the person most concerned was delightfully unsophisticated.
He laughed at her tenderly, stroking her soft, pretty
hair with his big man’s hand, the while he explained
that he was a business man pure and simple, and had
made no excursions whatever into literature; that
the “writing” with which he had been occupied
was connected with proposed changes in his firm, and
a report of a technical character.
Margot flamed with indignation, but
before the angry words had time to form themselves
on her lips, the thought occurred that after all the
help vouchsafed to her had been no pretence, but a
very substantial reality. Ron’s foot had
been placed on the first rung of the ladder, while
as for herself, what greater good could she have found
to desire than that which, through the Chieftain’s
machinations, had already come to pass? She
lifted her face to meet the anxious, adoring gaze bent
upon her, and cried hurriedly-
“He-he meant it all the time!
He meant it to happen!”
“Meant what, darling?”
Margot waved her hand with a gesture
sufficiently expressive, whereat her lover laughed
“Bless him! of course he did.
He has been badgering me for years past to look out
for a wife; and when we met you he was clever enough
to realise that you were the one woman to fill the
post. If he had said as much to me at that stage
of affairs, I should have packed up and made off within
the hour; if he had said it to you, you would have
felt it incumbent upon you to do the same. Instead,
he let you go on in your illusion, while he designed
the means of throwing us into each other’s society.
Good old Geoff! I’m not at all angry with
him. Are you?”
Margot considered the point, her head
tilted to a thoughtful angle.
I think I am, just a little bit, for I hate to be
taken in. He was laughing at me all the time.”
“But after all, he has done
what you wished! I envy him for being able to
give you such pleasure; but perhaps I may be able to
do as much in another way. Geoff tells me that
Mr Martin has had financial troubles, and there is
nothing I would not do to help any one who belongs
to you. I’m out of my depths in poetry,
but in business matters I can count, and in this case
I shall not be satisfied until I do.”
Margot drew a long breath of contentment.
“Oh, if Jack is happy, and Ron is successful,
and I have-You!-there
will be nothing left to wish for in all the world.
Poor Ron! he is waiting eagerly to come in to thank
you for publishing his verse, and wondering why in
the world you wanted to see me alone. Don’t
you think you ought just to read it, to be able to
say it is nice?”
“No, I don’t! You
are all the poetry I can attend to to-night, and for
goodness’ sake keep him away; I shall have to
interview your father later on, but after waiting
all these weeks I must have you to myself a little
“Oh, I won’t send for
him. I don’t want him a bit,” cried
Margot naively, “but he will come!”
And he did!
Waiting downstairs in the study, an
hour seemed an absurd length of time, and when no
summons came Ron determined to take the law in his
own hands and join the conference. The tableau
which was revealed to him on opening the drawing-room
door struck him dumb with amazement, and the explanations
which ensued appeared still more extraordinary.
George Elgood speedily beat a retreat
to the study, where Mr Vane listened to his request
with quiet resignation. Elderly, grey-haired
fathers have a way of seeing more than their children
suspect, and Margot’s father had recognised
certain well-known signs in the manner in which he
had been questioned concerning his daughter’s
progress during those anxious days at Glenaire.
His heart sank as he listened to the lover’s
protestations, but he told himself that he ought to
be thankful to know that his little Margot had chosen
a man of unblemished character, who was of an age
to appreciate his responsibility, possessed an income
sufficient to keep her in comfort, and, last but not
least, a home within easy distance of his own.
Late that evening, when her lover
had taken his departure, Margot stole down to the
study and sat silently for a time on her old perch
on the arm of her father’s chair, with her head
resting lovingly against his own. He was thankful
to feel her dear presence, and to know that she wished
to be near him on this night of all others, but his
heart was too full to speak, and it was she who at
last spoke the first words.
“I never knew,” she said
softly, “I never knew that it was possible to
be as happy as this. It’s so wonderful!
One can’t realise it all. Father dear,
I’ve been thinking of you! ... I never
realised before what it meant to you when mother died-all
that you lost! You have been good, and brave,
and unselfish, dear, and we must have tried you sorely
many times. We didn’t understand, but I
understand a little bit now, daddy, and it makes me
love you more. You’ll remember, won’t
you, that this is going to draw us closer together,
not separate us one little bit? You’ll
be sure to remember?”
“Bless you, dear!” he
said, and stroked her hand with tender fingers.
“It is sweet to hear you say so, at least.
I’m glad you are going to be happy, and if
I am to give you away at all, I am glad it is to a
strong, sensible man whom I can trust and respect;
but it will be a sad day for me when you leave the
old home, Margot.”
Margot purred over him with tenderest affection.
“How I wish Agnes would marry!”
“What has that to do with it, pray?”
“Then you could live with me,
of course! I should love it,” said Margot
warmly; and though her father had no intention of accepting
such an invitation, it remained through life a solace
to him to remember that it had been in the girl’s
heart to wish it.
Next morning at twelve o’clock
a daintily attired damsel ascended a dusty staircase
in Fleet Street and desired to see the Editor in his
den. The dragon who guarded the fastness inquired
of her if she had an appointment, and, unsoftened
by the charm of her appearance, volunteered the information
that Mr Elgood would see no stray callers.
“He will see me!”
returned Margot arrogantly; and she was right, for,
to the surprise of the messenger, the sight of the
little printed card was followed by an order to “Show
the lady in at once.”
A moment later Margot made her first
entrance into an Editor’s den, and round the
corner of a big desk caught a glimpse of a decorous,
black-coated figure whom at first sight it was difficult
to associate with the light-hearted Chieftain of Glenaire.
As they confronted each other, however, the round
face twinkled into a smile, which served as fuel to
the girl’s indignation. She stopped short,
ostentatiously disregarding the outstretched hand,
drew her brows together, and proclaimed haughtily-
“I have come to let you know
that you are found out. I know all about it
now. You have been laughing at me all the time?”
he assented smilingly. “You are such a
nice little girl to laugh at, you see, and it was
an uncommonly good joke! Do you remember the
day when you confided to me solemnly that you had
journeyed to Scotland on purpose to stalk me, and run
me to earth? You’d have been a bit embarrassed
if I’d told you the truth then and there, wouldn’t
you now? And besides-I see quite enough
of literary aspirants all the year round. It
was a bit hard to be hunted down on one’s holidays.
I felt bound to prevaricate, for the sake of my own
peace. Then again there was George! Where
would George have come in? If I had confessed
my identity, should I have been kept awake, as I was
last night, listening to his rhapsodies by the
hour together? By the way, we are going to be
near relatives. Don’t you want to shake
“I’m very angry indeed!”
maintained Margot stubbornly-nevertheless
her hand was in his, and her fingers involuntarily
returned his pressure. “Are you-glad!
Do you think I shall-do? Does he
seem really happy?”
“Ah, my dear!” he sighed,
and over the plump features there passed once more
the expression of infinite longing which Margot had
seen once before, when, in a moment of confidence,
he had spoken of his dead love. “Ah, my
dear, how happy he is! There is no word to express
such happiness! George has not frittered away
his affections on a number of silly flirtations-his
heart is whole, and it is wholly yours. Do you
owe me no thanks for bringing you together? You
wanted to help your brother; I wanted to help mine;
so we are equally guilty or praiseworthy, as the case
may be. For myself I am very well satisfied
with the result?”
Margot blushed, and cast down her eyes.
“I’m satisfied, too!”
she said shyly. “Much more than satisfied-and
Ron is enraptured. Have you seen him? He
said he was coming to see you first thing this morning!”
“Have I seen him, indeed?
I should think I had! I thought I should never
get rid of the boy. I told him straight that
the magazine comes first to me, and that not even
a prospective sister-in-law-with dimples!-could
induce me to accept a line for publication otherwise
than on its own merits. But the boy has power.
I can’t tell yet how far it may go, but it’s
worth encouraging. When he gave me his manuscript
book to read I was struck by one fragment, and wrote
it out in shorthand, to publish as a surprise to you
both. I like the lad, and will be glad to help
him so far as it is in my power. I can give him
a small post in this office, where at least he will
be in the atmosphere; but after that his future rests
with himself. What he writes that is worth publishing,
I will publish, but it will be judged on its merits
alone, and without any remembrance of his private associations.
He will have his chance!”
He put out his hands and held her
gently by the elbows, smiling at her the while with
the kindliest of smiles.
“Now are you satisfied, little
girl? From the moment that you looked at me
with her eyes, and asked my help, I have had
no better wish than to give it. I did not set
about it quite in your own way, perhaps, but the end
is the same. Don’t trouble any more about
the lad, but let me smooth the way with your father,
while you devote yourself to George. His happiness
is in your hands. Be good to him! He looks
upon you as an angel from heaven! Be an angel
for his sake! He sees in you everything that
is good, and pure, and womanly. Be what he believes!
Humanly speaking, his life is yours, and these little
hands will draw him more strongly than any power in
the world. It’s a big responsibility,
little girl, but I am not afraid! I know a good
woman when I see one, and can trust George to your
care. You will be very happy. I wonder
if in the midst of your happiness you will sometimes
remember-a lonely man?”
Margot twisted herself quickly from
his grasp, and her arms stretched out and encircled
his neck. She did not speak, but her lips, pressed
against his cheek, gave an assurance more eloquent