Who I am you will never know; nor do I wish you to know,
"Are we alone, Mr. Challoner, or is that man Sweetwater lurking somewhere within hearing?"
"Mr. Sweetwater is gone, as I had the honour of telling you yesterday," was the somewhat stiff reply. "There are no witnesses to this conference, if that is what you wish to know.
"Thank you, but you will pardon my insistence if I request the privilege of closing that door." He pointed to the one communicating with the bedroom. "The information I have to give you is not such as I am willing to have shared, at least for the present."
"You may close the door," said Mr. Challoner coldly. "But is it necessary for you to give me the information you mention, to-night? If it is of such a nature that you cannot accord me the privilege of sharing it, as yet, with others, why not spare me till you can? I have gone through much, Mr. Brotherson."
"You have," came in steady assent as the man thus addressed stepped to the door he had indicated and quietly closed it. " But," he continued, as he crossed back to his former position, "would it be easier for you to go through the night now in anticipation of what I have to reveal than to hear it at once from my lips while I am in the mood to speak?"
The answer was slow in coming. The courage which had upheld this rapidly aging man through so many trying interviews, seemed inadequate for the test put so cruelly upon it. He faltered and sank heavily into a chair, while the stern man watching him, gave no signs of responsive sympathy or even interest, only a patient and icy-tempered resolve.
"I cannot live in uncertainty;" such were finally Mr. Challoner's words. "What you have to say concerns Edith?" The pause he made was infinitesimal in length, but it was long enough for a quick disclaimer. But no such disclaimer came. "I will hear it," came in reluctant finish.
Mr. Brotherson took a step forward. His manner was as cold as the heart which lay like a stone in his bosom.
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