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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Knave Of Diamonds - Part 3 - Chapter 2. The Worker Of Miracles
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The Knave Of Diamonds - Part 3 - Chapter 2. The Worker Of Miracles Post by :jgcraft Category :Long Stories Author :Ethel May Dell Date :May 2012 Read :1977

Click below to download : The Knave Of Diamonds - Part 3 - Chapter 2. The Worker Of Miracles (Format : PDF)

The Knave Of Diamonds - Part 3 - Chapter 2. The Worker Of Miracles

PART III CHAPTER II. THE WORKER OF MIRACLES

"I want to know!" said Capper.

He had said it several times during a muddy two-mile tramp from Baronford Station, and he said it again as he turned up the hill that was crowned by the old grey church, whose two cracked bells had just burst into as cheerful a marriage peal as they could compass.

"Sounds frisky!" he commented to himself, as he trudged up the steep lane. "My! What an all-fired fuss! Guess these muddy boots aren't exactly wedding-guesty. But that's their lookout for monopolising every vehicle in the place. I wonder if I'll have the audacity to show after all. Or shall I carry this almighty thirst of mine back to the Carfax Arms and quench it in British ale?"

But this latter idea did not apparently greatly lure him, for he continued to plod upwards, even while considering it, to the tune of the clamouring bells.

Arriving finally at the top of the hill and finding there a crowd of vehicles of all descriptions, he paused to breathe and to search for the Baronmead motors.

He found them eventually, but there was no one in attendance. The servants were all herded in the churchyard for a view of the bridal procession, for which a passage across the road to the Rectory grounds was being kept.

Capper stationed himself, with another rueful glance as his boots, as near as he could get to the open lych-gate, and there stood grimly conspicuous, watching the scene with his alert green eyes, that held the glint of a tolerant smile, and cracking his thin, yellow fingers one by one. No one gave him a second glance, or dreamed for an instant that one of the greatest men in the Western Hemisphere was standing on the edge of the crowd.

They came at last--bride and bridegroom--flushed and hastening through a shower of rose petals.

Bertie was laughing all over his brown face. He was holding Dot's hand very fast, and as they descended the red-carpeted steps into the road he leaned to her, whispering. She laughed back at him with shining eyes, her round face radiant beneath the orange blossom. Neither of them glanced to right or left. Swiftly through the fallen rose leaves they crossed to the Rectory gateway and were lost to view.

A bevy of bridesmaids ran laughing after them, and then came a pause.

Capper edged a little nearer to the churchyard steps and waited. The clamour of bells was incessant, wholly drowning the clamour of voices. Everyone was craning forward to see the crowd of guests. The long procession had already begun to issue from the church porch. It moved very slowly, for at the head of it, his hand on his mother's arm, came Lucas Errol.

He walked with extreme difficulty, leaning on a crutch. His head was uncovered, and the glare of the September sunlight smote full upon it. The hair was turning very grey.

He was smiling as he came, but his brows were slightly drawn, his eyes sunk in deep hollows.

Swiftly and comprehensively the man at the foot of the steps scanned every detail, marked the halting, painful progress, the lined forehead. And the next moment, as Lucas paused, preparatory to descending, he pushed forward with characteristic decision of movement and moved upwards to his side.

"I guess you'll find me useful at this juncture," he said.

Lucas's start of surprise was instantly followed by a smile of welcome. He gripped Capper's hand warmly.

"The very man I want! But how in wonder did you get here? You never walked all the way from the station?"

"I did," said Capper.

"You don't say! Why didn't you let me know? I guess we must move on. We are blocking the gangway."

"Easy does it," said Capper. "It won't hurt 'em any to wait. Get your arm over my shoulder. That's the way. These steps are the very devil for you."

He bent his wiry frame to Lucas Errol's need, and helped him to descend. At the foot he paused a moment and looked at him keenly.

"All serene," smiled Lucas. "I'll take your arm now, if it's all the same to the mother. You didn't expect to find us plunged in wedding gaieties, I guess."

"Wish it had been your own," said Capper.

At which Lucas turned up his face to the sky and laughed.

They crossed the flag-decked garden and entered by the conservatory door. People were beginning to crowd about them.

"We must find you a seat somehow," said Capper.

"I must have a word with the bride and bridegroom first," Lucas declared.

But the bride and bridegroom were for the moment inaccessible, being completely surrounded by well-wishers.

Capper seized upon the first chair he came upon and put Lucas into it.

"I seem to have come in the nick of time," he observed drily. "Why is no one detailed to look after you? Where is that tiger's whelp Nap?"

"Nap's in America, been gone two months or more."

"That so?" There was keen satisfaction in Capper's tone. "That clears the ground for action. And Lady Carfax? Is she here?"

"No." There was a hint of reserve in the quiet reply. "Lady Carfax is in deep mourning for her husband."

"That so?" said Capper again. He seemed to take but casual note of the information. He was pulling absently at his pointed yellow beard.

Lucas lay back in his chair and suffered himself to relax with a sigh. Capper's eyes darted lizard-like over him, taking in every line of him, keenly alive to each detail.

"If I were you I should shunt as soon as possible," he said. "Since it isn't your own show unfortunately, I should imagine you are not indispensable."

But at this point the throng parted, and Dot, looking very young in her bridal white, and supremely happy, burst eagerly through,

"Oh, here you are!" she cried. "Your mother said you were close by, but I couldn't see you anywhere. It's been too much for you. You're tired."

She bent over him in quick solicitude, then, as he smiled and drew her down to him, stooped and kissed him, whispering a few words for his ear alone.

Bertie was close behind her, but he had caught sight of Capper and had stopped short with a queer expression on his boyish face, a look that was a curious blend of consternation and relief.

A moment and he stepped up to the great doctor and took him by the elbow. "You here already!" he said. "I didn't expect you so soon."

"I have only run down to have a look at things," said Capper. "I seem to have pitched on a busy day. I hope you are enjoying yourself."

"Thanks!" said Bertie, with a brief laugh. "Say, Doctor, you'll let me know your plans?"

"Certainly--when they are ripe." The green eyes gleamed humorously. "Aren't you thinking of introducing me to Mrs. Bertie?" he suggested.

"Yes, yes, of course. But you won't do anything without me?" urged Bertie. "I should greatly like a talk with you, but I'm afraid it can't be managed."

"I mightily doubt if you could tell me anything that I don't know already," said Capper, "on any subject."

"It's about Luke," said Bertie anxiously.

"Just so. Well, I guess I know more about Luke than any other person on this merry little planet."

"Do you think he looks worse?" whispered Bertie.

Capper's long, yellow hand fastened very unobtrusively and very forcibly upon his shoulder. "One thing at a time, good Bertie!" he said. "Weren't you going to present me to--your wife?"

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