“Is Miss Garland in?” he stammered.
Mr. Mott rubbed the remnants of sleep from his eyelids.
“She has gone for a walk,” he said, slowly.
The young man stood fingering his hat.
“My name is Hurst,” he said, with slight emphasis. “Mr. Alfred Hurst.”
Mr. Mott, still somewhat confused, murmured that he was glad to hear it.
“I have come from London to see Florrie,” continued the intruder. “I suppose she won’t be long?”
Mr. Mott thought not, and after a moment’s hesitation invited Mr. Hurst to take a chair.
“I suppose she told you we are engaged?” said the latter.
“Engaged!” said the startled Mr. Mott. “Why, she told me she didn’t like men.”
“Playfulness,” replied Mr. Hurst, with an odd look. “Ah, here she is!”
The handle of the front door turned, and a moment later the door of the room was opened and the charming head of Miss Garland appeared in the opening.
“Back again,” she said, brightly. “I’ve just been——”
She caught sight of Mr. Hurst, and the words died away on her lips. The door slammed, and the two gentlemen, exchanging glances, heard a hurried rush upstairs and the slamming of another door. Also a key was heard to turn sharply in a lock.
“She doesn’t want to see you,” said Mr. Mott, staring.
The young man turned pale.
“Perhaps she has gone upstairs to take her things off,” he muttered, resuming his seat. “Don’t—don’t hurry her!”
“I wasn’t going to,” said Mr. Mott.
He twisted his beard uneasily, and at the end of ten minutes looked from the clock to Mr. Hurst and coughed.
“If you wouldn’t mind letting her know I’m waiting,” said the young man, brokenly.
Mr. Mott rose, and went slowly upstairs. More slowly still, after an interval of a few minutes, he came back again.
“She doesn’t want to see you,” he said, slowly.
Mr. Hurst gasped.
“I—I must see her,” he faltered.
“She won’t see you,” repeated Mr. Mott. “And she told me to say she was surprised at you following her down here.”
Mr. Hurst uttered a faint moan, and with bent head passed into the little passage and out into the street, leaving Mr. Mott to return to the sitting-room and listen to such explanations as Miss Garland deemed advisable. Great goodness of heart in the face of persistent and unwelcome attentions appeared to be responsible for the late engagement.
“Well, it’s over now,” said her uncle, kindly, “and no doubt he’ll soon find somebody else. There are plenty of girls would jump at him, I expect.”
Miss Garland shook her head.
“He said he couldn’t live without me,” she remarked, soberly.
Mr. Mott laughed.
“In less than three months I expect he’ll be congratulating himself,” he said, cheerfully. “Why, I was nearly cau—married, four times. It’s a silly age.”