“And suppose your cousin won’t sell?”
“I will find a way to make him sell—some bribe, something. There, there,” and his enthusiasm and eagerness vanished in a moment, and the broken look came back upon his face. “It’s all nonsense; I am talking impossibilities—a little weak in my mind, I suppose. Forget it, there’s a good fellow; say nothing about it. And so you buried them? Ah, me! ah, me! And George did chief mourner. I suppose he blubbered freely; he always could blubber freely when he liked. I remember how he used to take folks in as a lad, and then laugh at them; that’s why they called him ‘Crocodile’ at school. Well, he’s my master now, and I’m his very humble servant; perhaps one day it will be the other way up again. What, must you go? If you knew how fearfully lonely I am, you would not go. My nerves have quite gone, and I fancy all sorts of things. I can think of nothing but those two graves out there in the dark. Have they sodded them over? Tell them to sod them over. It was kind of you to come and see me. You mustn’t pay any attention to my talk; I am not quite myself. Good night.”
Mr. Fraser was an extremely unsuspicious man, but somehow, as he picked his way to the vicarage to eat his solitary chop, he felt a doubt rising in his mind as to whether, his disclaimer notwithstanding, Philip had not sincerely meant all he said.
“He is shockingly changed,” he mused, “and I am not sure that it is a change for the better. Poor fellow, he has a great deal to bear, and should be kindly judged. It is all so painful that I must try to divert my mind. Mrs. Brown, will you bring me a little chocolate-coloured book, that you will see on the table in my study, when you come back with the potatoes? It has Plato—P-l-a-t-o—printed on the back.”
The jubilation of George at the turn events had taken may perhaps be more easily imagined than described. There is generally one weak point about all artful schemes to keep other people out of their rights; they break down over some unforeseen detail, or through the neglect of some trivial and obvious precaution. But this was one of the glorious instances to the contrary that prove the rule. Nothing had broken down, everything had prospered as a holy cause always should, and does —in theory. The stars in their courses had fought for Sisera, everything had succeeded beyond expectation, nothing had failed. In the gratitude of his heart, George would willingly have given a thousand pounds towards the establishment of a training-school for anonymous letter-writers, or the erection of a statue to Hilda Caresfoot, whose outraged pride and womanly jealousy had done him such yeoman service.