“Um!” he muttered, half aloud, “that’s where they are; I wish I had ten minutes.”
Next he returned swiftly to the table, and, taking a piece of the soft bread which he was eating instead of biscuit with his wine, he rapidly kneaded it into dough, and, going to the safe, divided the material into two portions. One portion he carefully pressed upon the keyhole of the subdivision, and then, extracting the key of the safe itself, took a very fair impress of its wards on the other. This done, he carefully put the pieces of dough in his breast-pocket in such a way that they were not likely to be crushed, and, with a smile of satisfaction, returned to his chair, helped himself to a glass of port, and dozed off.
“Hullo, Bellamy, gone to sleep! Wake up, man. We have settled this business about the mortgage. Will you write to Mr. Borley, and convey Mr. Heigham’s decision? And perhaps”—addressing Arthur—“you will do the same on your own account.”
“Certainly I will write, Caresfoot; and now I think that I must be off. Her ladyship does not like having to sit up for me.”
George laughed in a peculiarly insulting way.
“I don’t think she would care much, Bellamy, if you stayed away all night. But look here, tell her I want to see her to-morrow; don’t forget.”
Sir John bit his knightly lip, but answered, smiling, that he would remember, and begging George not to ring, as his trap was at the hall-door, and the servant waiting, he bade an affectionate good-night to Arthur, to whom he expressed a hope that they would soon meet again, and let himself out of the room. But, as soon as the door was closed, he went through another performance exceedingly inappropriate in a knight. Turning round, his smug face red with anger, he pirouetted on his toes, and shook his fist violently in the direction of the door.
“You scoundrel!” he said between his teeth, “you have made a fool of me for twenty years, and I have been obliged to grin and bear it; but I will be even with you yet, and her too, more especially her.”
So soon as Sir John had left, Arthur told his host that, if the morning was fine, he proposed to go and fish in Bratham Lake, and that he also proposed to take his departure by the last train on the following evening. To these propositions George offered no objection— indeed, they were distinctly agreeable to him, as lessening the time he would be forced to spend in the society of a guest he cordially detested, for such was the feeling that he had conceived towards Arthur.
Then they parted for the night; but, before he left the room, George went to lock up the safe that was still open in the corner. Struck by some thought, he unlocked the separate compartment with a key that hung on his watch-chain, and extracted therefrom a thick and neatly folded packet of letters. Drawing out one or two, he glanced through them and replaced them.