...an awful fluke of mine killing those four birds." Edward Cossey took no notice of the friendly words or outstretched hand, but came straight on as though he intended to walk past him. The Colonel was wondering what it was best to do, for he could not mistake the meaning of the oversight, when the Squire, who was sometimes very quick to notice things, spoke in a loud and decided tone. "Mr. Cossey," he said, "Colonel Quaritch is offering you his hand." "I observe that he is," he answered, setting his handsome face, "but I do not wish to take Colonel Quaritch's hand." Then came a moment's silence, which the Squire again broke. "When a gentleman in my house refuses to take the hand of another gentleman," he said very quietly, "I think that I have a right to ask the reason for his conduct, which, unless that reason is a very sufficient one, is almost as much a slight upon me as upon him." "I think that Colonel Quaritch must know the reason, and will not press me to explain," said Edward Cossey. "I know of no reason," replied the Colonel sternly, "unless indeed it is that I have been so unfortunate as to get the best of Mr. Cossey in a friendly shooting match." "Colonel Quaritch must know well that this is not the reason to which I allude," said Edward. "If he consults his conscience he will probably discover a better one." Ida and her father looked at each other in surprise, while the Colonel by a half involuntary movement stepped between his accuser and the door; and Ida noticed that his face was white with anger. "You have made a very serious implication against me, Mr. Cossey," he said in a cold clear voice. "Before you leave this room you will be so good as to explain it in the presence of those before whom it has been made." "Certainly, if you wish it," he answered, with something like a sneer. "The reason why I refused to take your hand, Colonel Quaritch, is that you have been guilty of conduct which proves to me that you are not a gentleman, and, ...