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CHAPTER VIII BENNY BECOMES AN OPTIMIST
There were two men who recognised Luton Delayne when he left the Palace Hotel, and one was that master of all the courtiers, Dr. Orange. The other was Benny, who met the baronet at the turn of the road and understood in a flash why he had come to Andana.

"Luton Delayne, by all that's unholy!" said he to himself, and turning, he watched the stooping figure of the man until the little wood of pines hid the apparition from his sight.

Dr. Orange treated the matter a little more cavalierly. He had Bess Bethune by his side, and she had been in the act of giving him a definition of beauty—which he had just declared that even Aristotle could not define—when the baronet passed him in the hall, and he uttered a sharp exclamation.

"Do you know who that is?" he said to Bess. She replied that she neither knew nor cared.

"Oh, but we shall all care if he comes here," the doctor ran on; "that's the greatest scoundrel in Switzerland at the present moment, Luton Delayne, who used to live at Holmswell. Surely, the hotel people know—"

Bess laughed.

"I wonder you didn't introduce me. My uncle says that the study of crime is necessary to virtue; but, of course, I know you, and that's something. Are you coming upstairs to play 'hearings,' or are you not? Really, Dr. Orange, you are getting very difficult."

The doctor said that it must be old age; but he was contemplative, and his enthusiasm for a child's game had waned. Excusing himself to Bess, who promised him lasting displeasure, he went off to the little French secretary, Ardlot, to discover, if he could, what that worthy knew about it. Ardlot was as dumb as a drum with a hole in it, and fearing the consequences of a premature disclosure, the doctor retired to his own room to think of it. Of course, he knew the "little widow" now. She was Lady Delayne, and he could well understand that she was ashamed of her name. At the same time he foresaw how difficult her position in the hotel must become, and he wondered that she had sought the critical society of Andana when a city would have shielded her more successfully.

Benny's problem was of a different kind altogether. He, too, knew the "little widow" now, and knowing her, a hundred castles came tumbling down with a crash and threatened to leave a brave heart sadly crushed beneath their ruins. Benny would have admitted nothing of the kind to himself; but such was the truth.

Meanwhile, he could but stare after the retreating figure of the baronet, and when that had disappeared from his view, he trudged back heavily toward the chalet, quite forgetful that he carried in his hand a fur tippet which Madame Lily had left behind her that afternoon of blessed memory.

Benny was a good philosopher and in part a historian, so that it was quite easy for him to sum up the events of the last few hours and to carry a clear impression of them in his mind. Yesterday he had seen a beautiful woman for the first time, and for the sake of her unforgettable eyes he had rolled over and over on the slopes of the Zaat last night, and had been dragged out headlong by a miracle of a priest, the Abbé Villari. Had not one of the patients at the Sanatorium providentially fallen ill during the small hours, the abbé would not have been on the mountain road at all, and he, Benny, would now be making the best he could of a new and unfamiliar world. But the priest had saved him—and, more wonderful to tell, had confessed, as they came down the mountain-side together, that he also had dabbled in this new and wonderful science of aviation, and often delighted the monastery with the model of a "Bleriot" which would fly. To all of which the wounded man had listened indifferently, for what was the meaning of all this eloquence to him, who had lost the whole world an hour ago on the slopes of the Zaat?

The priest, however, persisted and, word by word, he dragged Benny's story from him. The Englishman, he said, would be competing for the great prize offered by the English editor. It was a fine ambition, and one to deserve a blessing. Let him not despair because the machine was broken. There were clever lads at the monastery, and he, Felix Villari, was no mean mechanic. He would guard the secrets as his own, and pledge his word that the machine should be ready. Grown almost angry at his optimism, and deriding his pretensions, Benny lifted his bruised arm and asked for what kind of a prize that would fly. It was idle to speak of flight to such a man at such a time.

Here was the state of the game when Benny met Luton Delayne upon the mountain road, and stood gaping at "the ghost." His first idea was to get away from the place altogether, to cut Andana, and to forget both his disappointment and the source of it. Then a better spirit came to his aid, and he began to remember the many stories which Holmswell had told of the baronet, and to wonder how many of them were true. Lily Delayne was quite alone in this place; she herself had told him that she had no friends. He knew that his own good-will might be worth something to her; but for quite a long time he had no courage to pursue the idea. A sense of finality attended this amazing discovery as a sense of finality had been associated with his mishap in the earlier hours of the day.

Had Benny's mind been absolutely commonplace, and had he been hide-bound by the conventions, perchance the matter would have ended there and then. An early train would have carried him from Sierre to London, and he might very well have lived out his life as a very ordinary mechanic in a very ordinary workshop. In this way has the story of hundreds of good fellows, blessed with no common measure of talent, been written; and this might have been his own fate but for a certain hardening of determination which failure provoked.

The great prize was lost for a certainty, the new and dazzling hope which had come into his life yesterday had been shattered beyond all belief: and yet, when he had communed with himself for the best part of an hour on the narrow road which led up to the chalet, he took a sudden resolution and acted upon it without an instant's delay. He would see Lily Delayne immediately and hear from her own lips any story she might have to tell him. That she would have a story he firmly believed, and quickened by the pleasing idea of a friendship which must be beyond all question altruistic, he returned at once to the hotel and sent up a message to her. Five minutes later he was in her room, and he perceived at a glance that she had been weeping.

"I beg your pardon, Mrs. Kennaird," he said, "but I think you left this at the chalet?"

Lily took the tippet without a word. Her heart was beating fast, and the colour had returned as upon a freshet of understanding to her cheeks. A woman's sure instinct told her why h............
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