The Baronet's Bride (Chapter 2, page 1 of 10)

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Chapter 2

An old man, yet tall and upright, wearing a trailing cloak of dull black, long gray hair flowing over the shoulders, and tight to the scalp a skull-cap of black velvet. A patriarchal board, abundant and silver-white, streamed down his breast, and out of a dull, white face, seamed and wrinkled, looked a pair of eyes piercing and black.

Sir Jasper took a stop backward, and regarded this singular apparition in wonder. The old man folded his arms across his bosom--and made him a profound Oriental salaam.

"The Lord of Kingsland gazes in amaze at the uninvited stranger. And yet I think destiny has sent me hither."

"Who are you?" the baronet demanded. "What jugglery is this? Are you dressed for an Eastern dervish in a melodrama, and have you come here to play a practical joke? I am afraid I can not appreciate the humor of the masquerade. Who are you?" sternly.

"Men call me Achmet the Astrologer."

"An astrologer? Humph! your black art, it seems, could not protect you from a January storm," retorted Sir Jasper, with a cynical sneer. "But come in--come in. Astrologer or demon, or whatever you are, you look too old a man to be abroad such a night, when we would not turn an enemy's dog from the house. The doors of Kingsland are never closed to the tired wayfarer, and of all nights in the year they should not he closed to-night."

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