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" Have you forgotten already that this scar upon my foot, which you expected to find there, is conspicuous by its absence?" she enquired, laughingly,

"No," was the quietly given reply. "I had not forgotten that." “But as you saw, it is not there,” said Mary, still smiling. “No, it is not there," agreed Dr. Sleek.

"Now the question is, was it ever there at all? ” she returned in a half pensive, half bantering tone. “Of that there is no doubt,” was the very decided reply.

No manner of doubt whatever ?!” said Mary lightly. “Ah ! odd, that, is it not, Doctor Sleek ? ”

“ Yes, Miss Dunstable, it is very strange."
“ And yet scars do sometimes die out, do they not?”
" That depends upon the scar," replied Dr. Sleek.

“Of course," agreed Mary, “and mine you considered unlikely to do so.”

"If I had been asked, I should have said that it was not only unlikely, but impossible.”

“Very odd indeed,” murmured Mary meditatively; "and you are quite sure that it was my foot that this wonderful scar was on?” "Quite sure," said Dr. Sleek.

And you are equally sure that it was upon my left foot ?" she continued, glancing up, with a smile, straight into his face as she spoke.

And then her heart for a few seconds almost ceased to beat, for a startled expression came into the old man's eyes as they met hers, and a change took place in his whole bearing. What view he had been taking of the case until then, it had been very difficult to tell. His manner had been lethargic and indifferent. Now his attention seemed fairly arrested; he was interested beyond doubt. His lack of interest that morning, up to now, had almost annoyed her, but she greatly preferred it to the interest which her question had awakened. She knew at once that it was a kind of interest which was undesirable, and that she had made another false move.

“Why do you ask me that question, Miss Dunstable ?” he enquired in a concentrated tone.

“ “Ah,” she replied evasively. “Have you not yet learnt how useless it is to expect a woman to give a reason for her words or actions? I asked because I wished to know."

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“Not because you have a scar upon your right foot, Miss Dunstable ? Only because you wished to know ?

Mary drew a long breath; her heart was beating away fast enough now; she almost wished it would pause again for a second

It was not pleasant when it paused, but it was stilling when it beat so very fast. Affairs had arrived at an extremely

. critical point. Danger seemed to be signalled in every direction.

Supposing I had a scar upon my right foot ?" she replied at last, with difficulty still speaking in the same light tone. “What then, Dr. Sleek?"

" It would be a most peculiar fact, Miss Dunstable,” was the calm reply. "Because in your childhood you had a scar upon your left foot, and none upon your right.”

" Very odd," she agreed. “If now I have one on my right foot, it is really very odd indeed."

Very, Miss Dunstable.” “ And your memory ?" she enquired quietly, again glancing up straight into his face with a smile.

“We are all of us apt to make mistakes sometimes."

“ It is really very broad-minded of you to grant it,” said Mary, the colour surging up into her face as she spoke in her excitement.

“Yes, sometimes I have made mistakes,” he continued quietly. “But not in this instance, Miss Dunstable. Beyond all doubt that scar was upon your left foot.”

Eighteen years ago," put in Mary, in a low tone. “Eighteen years ago,” agreed the doctor.

“And now it has disappeared," she continued in the same tone. “How do you account for it?”

“I cannot account for it, Miss Dunstable. I have thought of little else all night, and there is no accounting for it. It is one of those things which one has seen with one's own eyes and cannot believe."

“So I should imagine," was the boldly given retort, “had it ever existed upon my left foot. But you see, Doctor Sleek, this is one of those occasions upon which you have been mistaken. I never had a scar upon my left foot.”

It was a bold move. There was not a quiver upon her face, and her tone was decided and even a little scornful.

“And you have a scar upon your right ?” murmured Dr. Sleek, in accents of mingled surprise and incredulity.

)

There was

no possible reason why Dr. Sleek should have doubted Miss Dunstable's word, save that he had felt certain that that scar was upon her other foot. In truth this seemed the only possible solution to the difficulty; and, in spite of his own convictions to the contrary, he had accepted it as such. Only there was that intonation of incredulity in his tone, owing to that old belief; and that touch of incredulity was Mary's undoing

It rendered her nervous ! Knowing that she had uttered an untruth, the thought that he did not believe it came naturally to her. It had been her greatest fear, and his tone of voice seemed to warn her guilty conscience that her greatest fear was realized. He doubted that assertion of hers! She did not lose her head, she only lost her former complete self-control. She looked up calmly enough at him, and replied quite quietly, "Yes, I have a scar upon my right foot, of course, Doctor Sleek.” But as she did so a sudden rush of colour came into her cheeks, and her voice shook ominously.

Why should she have coloured like that? Why did she seem so agitated ? Dr. Sleek, until that moment, wholly unsuspicious of false play, had too long been in the habit of noting every little change in his patients to pass over that sudden, unaccountable alteration in Miss Dunstable's bearing. He instantly began to wonder what it meant!

There was a long pause, during which the old man looked thoughtfully at Mary, with a grave, peculiar expression in his eyes. Still he was unsuspicious of the truth ; only, unfortunately for Mary, she did not know it. All she knew was that he seemed suspicious, that he had realized that something was wrong; and, something being so very wrong, she fidgetted under that penetrating look of his, and allowed it to render her conspicuously uneasy. Then in desperation she collected her ideas sufficiently to play her last card.

“Would you like to see it, Doctor Sleek ? ” she continued in a would-be careless tone. “ Or is it another of those things which, if seen with one's own eyes even, one fails to believe in ?”

Dr. Sleek made no reply. He was so wrapped in thought that he had hardly heard a word she said.

And then, utterly disconcerted by the failure which had followed that courageous move of hers, and dreading that instead of the decided and courteous refusal which she had expected as its reward, he might suggest that he would like to see the scar, she hurriedly turned the subject.

"Do you know that you have never yet enquired how my sprain is getting on?” she remarked quickly. “The scar of eighteen years ago seems to have completely over-shadowed the sprain a fortnight old; but after all the sprain is the more tiresome and important matter of the two; is it not so ?”

And after that of course the sprain was duly discussed and inspected, and equally of course the subject of the scar was put aside. Mary felt assured that Dr. Sleek would not refer to it again that day; but she knew that she had rendered him thoughtful and suspicious; and although it seemed improbable that his suspicions could lead him to a discovery of the truth, she did not feel disposed to face the possibility of their doing so.

It would be so remarkably unpleasant if the truth were to leak out now! Unendurable yesterday, it would be trebly so henceforth.

And so Mr. Tom Atherton's fate was sealed. Mary determined then and there, after that interview with Dr. Sleek, that she would marry Tom Atherton without any further delay.

She had played her last card ; and it had by no means won for her that easy victory which she had so greatly hoped for.

CHAPTER XXXIX.

A MIDNIGHT ADVENTURE. THE 11.5 train from Bellminster had just steamed into the Delton Carr station. It stopped there just five minutes, and after that went straight through to town.

Seemingly very few people were going up to town by the 11.5 train that Thursday night. Three men only stood upon the platform. Two of them were discussing the subject of their luggage with the sleepy-looking porters. The third, a tall, well-made man in a long frieze coat, which enveloped him from head to foot, stood for a moment by the open door of a first-class carriage, and then stepped in and settled himself into the corner seat, facing the engine, nearest the carriage-door.

Presently one of two men who had been talking to the porters hurried up to the carriage in which the gentleman in the long, frieze coat was sitting. Entering it, he unrolled a bundle of rugs and deposited one of them quickly and deftly over the gentleman's knees. Then he handed him a soft, grey cloth shooting-cap, and descended the carriage steps.

"Anything further, Sir John ?” he enquired, as he stood at the carriage door.

"No; that is all, Masterman," replied the gentleman thus addressed, who was putting on the cap as he spoke.

The gentleman was Sir John Blunt; Masterman was of course his valet. The latter moved quickly away, entered a second-class carriage, and closed the door. The last portmanteau had been bundled into the van ; the third passenger, a short, stoutly-built, fussy individual, had at last been persuaded to get into his place, the door of his carriage had been shut, and the train was on the point of starting, when suddenly a fourth passenger hurried on to the platform, followed by a porter with a bundle of rugs and a portly dressing-case.

This fourth passenger was a woman. She moved with a slight limp, and wore a brown and drab, largely-checked ulster, and a fashionably-made little hat composed of brown fur and drab velvet ribbons. She was evidently muscular and able to take care of herself, for she seized the portly dressing-case in one hand and the bundle of cloaks in the other, and in spite of that slight lameness of hers, precipitated herself into a first-class carriage in a surprisingly short time.

She had very nearly missed the train, and that to her would have been a very serious calamity.

The door of the carriage she had entered was banged to, and the 11.5 train, with Mary Dunstable inside it, left Delton Carr station on its way to town.

She wore a very thick, grey shetland-wool veil, and behind it it was perfectly impossible for any one to have distinguished a single feature in her face. She threw herself down in her usuai brisk way into one of the seats furthest from the door, and then from beneath that thick veil of hers turned her cyes to look at her fellow traveller.

For the carriage which she had so hurriedly entered had not been empty. In entering it she had half-stumbled over the feet of a gentleman who sat in a seat near the door.

That gentleman, it is needless to say, was Sir John Blunt.

It was not until she turned her head and looked at him that she realized this very disconcerting and undesirable fact. She had been annoyed to find that there was a gentleman at all in

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