“I have had the pleasure of meeting Mrs Null in New York,” said Lawrence, to whom the word cousin gave what might be called a more important surprise than anything with which this three-sided interview had yet furnished its participants. He gave a quick glance at the lady, and discovered her very steadfastly gazing at him. “I hope,” he said, “that you and your husband have had a very pleasant trip.”
“Mr Null did not come with me,” she quietly replied.
Lawrence Croft was a man to whom it gave pleasure to deal with problematic situations, unexpected developments, and the like; but this was too much of a conundrum for him. That the man, whose address he had employed this girl to find out, should prove to be her cousin, and that she should start on her bridal trip without her husband, were points on which his reason had no power to work. One thing, however, he quickly determined upon. He would have an interview with Madam Cashier, and have her explain these mysteries. She was, virtually, his agent, and had no right to conceal from him what she had been doing, and why she had done it.
It was necessary, however, that he should waste no time in thoughts of this kind, but should immediately state to Mr Keswick the reason of his visit; for it could not be supposed he had called in a merely social way. “I wish to speak to you,” he said, “on a little matter of business.”
At these words Mrs Null excused herself, and went into the house. Her mind was troubled as she wondered what the business was which had made this New York gentleman so extraordinarily desirous to find her cousin. Was it anything that would injure Junius? She looked back as she entered the door, but the object of her solicitude was sitting with a face so calm and composed that it showed very plainly he did not expect any communication which would be harmful to him.
“It is a satisfaction,” thought Mr Croft, “a very great satisfaction that I can enter upon the object of my visit knowing that my affairs and my actions have not been discussed by this gentleman and Mrs Null.”
Old Mrs Keswick would willingly have followed the strange gentleman to the house in order to know the object of his visit, but as he had come to see Junius she refrained, for she knew her nephew would not like any appearance of curiosity on her part. Her reception of Junius had been very different indeed from that she had previously accorded him when she declined to be found under the same roof with him. Now he was here under very different auspices, and for him the very plumpest poultry was slain, and everything was done to make him comfortable and willing to stay and become acquainted with his cousin, Mrs Null. A match between these two young people was the present object of the old lady’s existence, and she set about making it with as much determination and confidence as if there had been no such person as Mr