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The Tempting of Tavernake

I.15. General Discontent
Elizabeth did not at once rejoin her friends. Instead, she sank on to the low settee close to
where she had been standing, and drew Tavernake down to her side. She waved her hand
across at the others, who were calling for her.
"In a moment, dear people," she said.
Then she leaned back among the cushions and laughed at her companion.
"Tell me, Mr. Tavernake," she asked, "don't you feel that you have stepped into a sort of
modern Arabian Nights?"
"Why?"
"Oh, I know Mr. Pritchard's weakness," she continued. "He loves to throw a glamour
around everything he says or does. Because he honors me by interesting himself in my
concerns, he has probably told you all sorts of wonderful things about me and my friends.
A very ingenious romancer, Mr. Pritchard, you know. Confess, now, didn't he tell you
some stories about us?"
She might have spared herself the trouble of beating about the bush. There was no
hesitation about Tavernake.
"He said that your friends were every one of them criminals," Tavernake declared, "and
he admitted that he was working hard at the present moment to discover that you were
one, too."
She laughed softly but heartily.
"I wonder what was his object," she remarked, "in taking you into his confidence."
"He happened to know," Tavernake explained, "that I was intimate with your sister. He
wanted me to ask Beatrice a certain question."
Elizabeth laughed no more. She looked steadfastly into his eyes.
"And that question?"
"He wanted me to ask Beatrice why she left you and hid herself in London."
She tried to smile but not very successfully.
"According to his story," Tavernake continued, "you and Beatrice and your husband were
away together somewhere in the country. Something happened there, something which
 
 
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