“You’ll come, Feltram. I should lose myself in that wilderness, and probably fail to discover him,” said Sir Bale; “and I really wish to see him.”
“When two people wish to meet, it is hard if they don’t. I can go with you a bit of the way; I can walk a little through the forest by your side, until I see the small flower that grows peeping here and there, that always springs where those people walk; and when I begin to see that sign, I must leave you. And, first, I’ll take you across the lake.”
“By Jove, you’ll do no such thing!” said Sir Bale hastily.
“But that is the way he chooses to be approached,” said Philip Feltram.
“I have a sort of feeling about that lake; it’s the one childish spot that is left in my imagination. The nursery is to blame for it—old stories and warnings; and I can’t think of that. I should feel I had invoked an evil omen if I did. I know it is all nonsense; but we are queer creatures, Feltram. I must only ride there.”
“Why, it is five-and-twenty miles round the lake to that; and after all were done, he would not see you. He knows what he’s worth, and he’ll have his own way,” answered Feltram. “The sun will soon set. See that withered branch, near Snakes Island, that looks like fingers rising from the water? When its points grow tipped with red, the sun has but three minutes to live.”
“That is a wonder which I can’t see; it is too far away.”
“Yes, the lake has many signs; but it needs sight to see them,” said Feltram.
“So it does,” said the Baronet; “more than most men have got. I’ll ride round, I say; and I make my visit, for this time, my own way.”
“You’ll not find him, then; and he wants his money. It would be a pity to vex him.”
“It was to you he lent the money,” said Sir Bale.
“Well, you are the proper person to find him out and pay him,” urged Sir Bale.
“Perhaps so; but he invites you; and if you don’t go, he may be offended, and you may hear no more from him.”
“We’ll try. When can you go? There are races to come off next week, for once and away, at Langton. I should not mind trying my luck there. What do you say?
“You can go there and pay him, and ask the same question—what horses, I mean, are to win. All the county are to be there; and plenty of money will change hands.”
“I’ll try,” said Feltram.
“When will you go?”
“To-morrow,” he answered.
“I have an odd idea, Feltram, that you are really going to pay off those cursed mortgages.”
He laid his hand with at least a gesture of kindness on the thin arm of Feltram, who coldly answered,
“So have I;” and walked down the side of the little knoll and away, without another word or look.
On the Lake, at Last