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The Black Robe

The End Of The Ball
THE priest's long journey did not appear to have fatigued him. He was as
cheerful and as polite as ever--and so paternally attentive to Stella that it was
quite impossible for her to pass him with a formal bow.
"I have come all the way from Devonshire," he said. "The train has been
behind time as usual, and I am one of the late arrivals in consequence. I miss
some familiar faces at this delightful party. Mr. Romayne, for instance.
Perhaps he is not one of the guests?"
"Oh, yes."
"Has he gone away?"
"Not that I know of."
The tone of her replies warned Father Benwell to let Romayne be. He tried
another name.
"And Arthur Penrose?" he inquired next.
"I think Mr. Penrose has left us."
As she answered she looked toward Lady Loring. The hostess was the center
of a circle of ladles and gentlemen. Before she was at liberty, Father Benwell
might take his departure. Stella resolved to make the attempt for herself
which she had asked Lady Loring to make for her. It was better to try, and to
be defeated, than not to try at all.
"I asked Mr. Penrose what part of Devonshire you were visiting," she
resumed, assuming her more gracious manner. "I know something myself of
the north coast, especially the neighborhood of Clovelly."
Not the faintest change passed over the priest's face; his fatherly smile had
never been in a better state of preservation.
"Isn't it a charming place?" he said with enthusiasm. "Clovelly is the most
remarkable and most beautiful village in England. I have so enjoyed my little
holiday--excursions by sea and excursions by land- you know I feel quite
young again?"
He lifted his eyebrows playfully, and rubbed his plump hands one over the
other with such an intolerably innocent air of enjoyment that Stella positively
hated him. She felt her capacity for self-restraint failing her. Under the
influence of strong emotion her thoughts lost their customary discipline. In
attempting to fathom Father Benwell, she was conscious of having
 
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