Old Augustus said nothing, but Brandon, to his great surprise, noticed that as the narrative went on it produced a marked effect upon him; he listened with suppressed eagerness, and then with a cogitative air as if he was turning the thing over in his mind.
The conclusion of the story, how Janie had said the name of the ghost was Melcombe, John Mortimer related, for Brandon by that time was keenly alive to the certainty that they were disturbing the old man much.
A short silence followed. John was still arranging his papers, then his father said deliberately,—
“This is the first hint I ever received of any presence being supposed to haunt the place.”
The ghost itself had never produced the slightest effect on John Mortimer. All he thought of was the consequence of the tale on the minds of his children.
“I shall take care that little monkey does not come here again in a hurry,” he remarked, at the same time proceeding to mend a quill pen; his father watching him rather keenly, Brandon thought, from under his bushy, white eyebrows.
“Now, of all men,” thought Brandon, “I never could have supposed that Grand was superstitious. I don’t believe he is either; what does it mean?” and as there was still silence, he became so certain that Grand would fain ask some more questions but did not like to do so, that he said, in a careless tone, “That was all the children told us;” and thereupon, being satisfied and willing to change the subject, as Brandon thought, the old man said,—
“Does my brother dine at home to-day, St. George?”
“Yes, uncle; shall I tell him you will come over to dinner?”
“Well, my dear fellow, if you are sure it will be convenient to have me—it is a good while since I saw him—so you may.”
“He will be delighted; shall I tell him you will stay the night?”
“Well done, father,” said John, looking up. “I am glad you are getting over the notion that you cannot sleep away from home. I’ll come over to breakfast, St. George, and drive my father in.”
“Do,” said Brandon, taking his leave; and as he walked to the railway that was to take him home, he could not help still pondering on the effect produced by the mention of the ghost. He little supposed, however, that the ghost was at the bottom of this visit to his stepfather; but it was.
AN OLD MAN DIGS A WELL.
“And travel finishes the fool.”
Mrs. Peter Melcombe, all unconscious of the unfavourable impression her son had made on his late host, continued to think a good deal of the agreeable widower. She made Peter write from time to time to little Janie Mortimer and report the progress of the puppy, at the same time taking care to mention his dear mamma in a manner that she thought would be advantageous.