The admiring Mr. Kybird said that he was a wonder, and, in the discussion on ways and means which followed, sat listening with growing respect to the managing abilities both of his friend and his wife. Difficulties were only mentioned for the purpose of being satisfactorily solved, and he noticed with keen appreciation that the prospect of a ten thousand pound son-in-law was already adding to that lady’s dignity. She sniffed haughtily as she spoke of “that Nugent lot”; and the manner in which she promised Mr. Smith that he should not lose by his services would have graced a duchess.
“I didn’t expect to lose by it,” said the boarding-master, pointedly. “Come over and ’ave a glass at the Chequers, Dan, and then you can go along and see Teddy.”
The summer evening was well advanced when Mr. Kybird and his old friend parted. The former gentleman was in almost a sentimental mood, and the boarding-master, satisfied that his pupil was in a particularly appropriate frame of mind for the object of his visit, renewed his instructions about binding Mr. Silk to secrecy, and departed on business of his own.
[Illustration: “Mr. Kybird and his old friend parted.”]
Mr. Kybird walked slowly towards Fullalove Alley with his head sunk in meditation. He was anxious to find Mr. Silk alone, as otherwise the difficulty of his errand would be considerably increased, Mrs. Silk’s intelligence being by no means obscured by any ungovernable affection for the Kybird family. If she was at home she would have to invent some pretext for luring Teddy into the privacy of the open air.
The lamp was lit in the front room by the time he reached the house, and the shadows of geraniums which had won through several winters formed a straggling pattern on the holland blind. Mr. Kybird, first making an unsuccessful attempt to peep round the edges of this decoration, tapped gently on the door, and in response to a command to “Come in,” turned the handle and looked into the room. To his relief, he saw that Mr. Silk was alone.
“Good evening, Teddy,” he said, with a genial smile, as he entered slowly and closed the door behind him. “I ’ope I see you well?”
“I’m quite well,” returned Mr. Silk, gazing at him with unconcealed surprise.
“I’m glad to ’ear it,” said Mr. Kybird, in a somewhat reproachful voice, “for your sake; for every-body’s sake, though, p’r’aps, I did expect to find you looking a little bit down. Ah! it’s the wimmen that ’ave the ’arts after all.”
Mr. Silk coughed. “What d’ye mean?” he inquired, somewhat puzzled.
“I came to see you, Teddy, on a very delikit business,” said Mr. Kybird, taking a seat and gazing diffidently at his hat as he swung it between his hands; “though, as man to man, I’m on’y doing of my dooty. But if you don’t want to ’ear wot I’ve got to say, say so, and Dan’l Kybird’ll darken your door no more.”