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The Nest of the Sparrowhawk

XII. An Idea
The triumph was complete. But of a truth the game was waxing dangerous.
Lady Sue Aldmarshe had promised to marry her prince. She would keep her
word, of that Sir Marmaduke was firmly convinced. But there would of necessity
be two or three days delay and every hour added to the terrors, the certainty of
discovery.
There was a watch-dog at Sue's heels, stern, alert, unyielding. Richard Lambert
was probing the secret of the mysterious prince, with the unerring eye of the
disappointed lover.
The meeting to-night had been terribly dangerous. Sir Marmaduke knew that
Lambert was lurking somewhere in the park.
At present even the remotest inkling of the truth must still be far from the young
man's mind. The whole scheme was so strange, so daring, so foreign to the
simple ideas of the Quaker-bred lad, that its very boldness had defied suspicion.
But the slightest mischance now, a meeting at the door of the pavilion, an
altercation--face to face, eye to eye--and Richard Lambert would be on the alert.
His hatred would not be so blind, nor yet so clumsy, as that of his brother, the
blacksmith. There is no spy so keen in all the world as a jealous lover.
This had been the prince's first meeting with Sue, since that memorable day
when the secret of their clandestine love became known to Lambert. Sir
Marmaduke knew well that it had been fraught with danger; that every future
meeting would wax more and more perilous still, and that the secret marriage
itself, however carefully and secretively planned, would hardly escape the prying
eyes of the young man.
The unmasking of Prince Amédé d'Orléans before Sue had become legally his
wife was a possibility which Sir Marmaduke dared not even think of, lest the very
thought should drive him mad. Once she was his wife! ... well, let her look to
herself.... The marriage tie would be a binding one, he would see to that, and her
fortune should be his, even though he had won her by a lie.
He had staked his very existence on the success of his scheme. Lady Sue's
fortune was the one aim of his life, for it he had worked and striven, and lied: he
would not even contemplate a future without it, now that his plans had brought
him so near the goal.
He had one faithful ally, though not a powerful one, in Editha, who, lured by some
vague promises of his, desperate too, as regarded her own future, had chosen to
throw in her lot whole-heartedly with his.
He was closeted with her on the following day, in the tiny withdrawing-room
which leads out of the hall at Acol Court. When he had stolen into the house in
the small hours of the morning he had seen Richard Lambert leaning out of one
of the windows which gave upon the park.
It seemed as if the young man must have seen him when he skirted the house,
for though there was no moonlight, the summer's night was singularly clear. That
Lambert had been on the watch--spying, as Sir Marmaduke said with a bitter
oath of rage--was beyond a doubt.
 
 
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