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WHEN the door had closed behind the two, I looked up at Landry. She was lying back in her chair, her eyes half closed and a smile lurking round the corners of her mouth. It was her most bewitching pose, but my thoughts were hardly on her beauty just then. Dornton might— and to my thinking had— talked like a lunatic, but those flippant rejoinders of hers had jarred on my nerves.

She laughed as her eyes met mine. "Guess I've shocked you some?" she said, "you being dense like the rest. Now, I call it I've done a smart thing. For why? I believe in this Beast business."

It was now my turn to laugh, and I did so without reserve.

"No; but I mean it. Old Mirzarbeau may be a lunatic, and Mr. Dornton— who I guess is engineering the show— may be another, but you bet that here they know how many beans make five. I tell you they'll whip creation on this notion— all creation bar one. All except Landry Baker."

"And she?" I asked with an amused smile.

"She will just boss the whole caboodle. Don't you see that our friends being but humans will do as humans always do? And because Landry Baker laughed at them . . ."

"So would any one," I interrupted.

"May be, but not on my line. . . . Just you sit tight and listen. . . . Well, because I did that they'll never rest till they wipe it out; and what with that, and what Nature's done for me in the way of features, I'll twiddle them or any other man round my little finger so long's my name's Landry S. Baker."

I looked at her. She was a glorious creature to gaze upon. I remember now how once I had rather disliked her, and how completely that had now passed away. Doubtless I was merely being "twiddled round her little finger;" but— well, after all, it had its pleasant side. I certainly saw her in a new light to-day— hitherto she had always seemed particularly thoughtless and irresponsible— I had taken indolence for inability. It occurred to me what a useful wife she would make to a man who had ambitions, if once she identified those ambitions with herself. I thought of one or two futures that I might with advantage cultivate; a seat in Parliament, or something of that sort. If only she would allow me to talk of something other than the fad of the moment; if only . . .

And then, in came old Lady Yarcombe spoiling all that might have been.

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