Columbine said nothing for a moment; her gaiety seemed to be suddenly extinguished and quenched. Ansley was wondering uneasily at the constraint, when at length she broke the silence.
"Since you have ordered, let the command be obeyed!" She essayed a laugh, which appeared rather forced. "Yet, if they are lost and are taken by the Masquer--"
"In that case," said Fell, "let the blame be mine entirely. If they are lost, little Columbine, others will be lost with them, fear not! I think that this party would be a rich haul for the Masquer, eh? Take the rich man and his friends they could bear plucking, that crowd! Rogues all."
"Confound you, Fell!" exclaimed Ansley, uneasily. "If the bandit does show up there would be the very devil to pay!"
"And Maillard would do the paying." Fell's dry chuckle held a note of bitterness. "Let him. Who cares? Look at his house, there, blazing with lights. Who pays for those lights? The people his financial tentacles have closed their sucker-like gr