“You think she would be cold-blooded, too?”
“Undoubtedly; but it is all perfectly preposterous. I don’t believe you mean a word you are saying—it is some kind of a joke.”
“Have you ever known me to make such jokes, Tancred?” Mr. Markrute asked calmly.
“No, I haven’t, and that is the odd part of it. What the devil do you mean, really, Francis?”
“I mean what I say: I will pay every debt you have, and give you a charming wife with a fortune.”
Lord Tancred got up and walked about the room. He was a perfectly natural creature, stolid and calm as those of his race, disciplined and deliberate in moments of danger or difficulty; yet he never lived under self-conscious control as the financier did. He was rather moved now, and so he walked about. He was with a friend, and it was not the moment to have to bother over disguising his feelings.
“Oh, it is nonsense, Francis; I could not do it. I have knocked about the world as you know, and, since you are aware of everything about me, you say, you have probably heard some of my likings—and dislikings. I never go after a woman unless she attracts me, and I would never marry one of them unless I were madly in love with her, whether she had money or no; though I believe I would hate a wife with money, in any case—she’d be saying like the American lady of poor Darrowood: ’It’s my motor and you can’t have it to-day.’”
“You would marry a woman then—if you were in love, in spite of everything?” Francis Markrute asked.
“Probably, but I have never been really in love; have you? It is all story-book stuff—that almighty passion, I expect. They none of them matter very much after a while, do they, old boy?”
“I have understood it is possible for a woman to matter,” the financier said and he drew in his lips.
“Well, up to now I have not,” Lord Tancred announced, “and may the day be far off when one does. I feel pretty safe!”
A strange, mysterious smile crept over Mr. Markrute’s face.
“By the way, also, how do you know the lady would be willing to marry me, Francis? You spoke as if I only had to be consulted in the affair.”
“So you have. I can answer for my niece; she will do as I wish, and, as I said before, you are rather a perfect picture of an English nobleman, Tancred. You have not found women recalcitrant, as a rule—no?”
Lord Tancred was not inordinately vain, though a man, and he had a sense of humor—so he laughed.
“’Pon my word it is amusing, your turning into a sort of matrimonial agent. Can’t you see the fun of the thing yourself?”
“It seems quite natural to me. You have every social advantage to offer a woman, and a presentable person; and my niece has youth, and some looks, and a large fortune. But we will say no more about it. I shall be glad to be of any service I can to you, anyway, in regard to your Canadian scheme. Come and dine to-night; I happen to have asked a couple of railway magnates with interests out there, and you can get some information from them.”