“I shall be delighted, and my niece will be delighted at your kindness in calling so soon.”
Then they said a few more polite things and the financier finished by:—“I am taking the great liberty of having the book, which I told you about, rebound—it was in such a tattered condition, I was ashamed to send it to you—do not think I had forgotten. I hope you will accept it?”
“I thought you only meant to lend it to me because it is out of print and I cannot buy it. I am so sorry you have had this trouble,” Lady Ethelrida said, a little stiffly. “Bring it to the shoot. It will interest me to see it but you must not give it to me.” And then she smiled graciously; and he allowed her to say good-bye, and drive on. And as he turned into Grosvenor Street he mused,
“I like her exquisite pride; but she shall take the book—and many other things—presently.”
* * * * *
Meanwhile Zara Shulski had arrived at Bournemouth. She had started early in the morning, and she was making a careful investigation of the house. The doctor appeared all that was kind and clever, and his wife gentle and sweet. Mirko could not have a nicer home, it seemed. Their little girl was away at her grandmother’s for the next six weeks, they said, but would be enchanted to have a little boy companion. Everything was arranged satisfactorily. Zara stayed the night, and next day, having wired to Mimo to meet her at the station, she returned to London.
They talked in the Waterloo waiting-room; poor Mimo seemed so glad and happy. He saw her and her small bag into a taxi. She was going back to her uncle’s, and was to take Mirko down next day, and, on the following one, start for Paris.
“But I can’t go back to Park Lane without seeing Mirko, now,” she said. “I did not tell my uncle what train I was returning by. There is plenty of time so I will go and have tea with you at Neville Street. It will be like old times, we will get some cakes and other things on the way, and boil the kettle on the fire.”
So Mimo gladly got in with her and they started. He had a new suit of clothes and a new felt hat, and looked a wonderfully handsome foreign gentleman; his manner to women was always courteous and gallant. Zara smiled and looked almost happy, as they arranged the details of their surprise tea party for Mirko.
At that moment there passed them in Whitehall a motorcar going very fast, the occupant of which, a handsome young man, caught the most fleeting glimpse of them—hardly enough to be certain he recognized Zara. But it gave him a great start and a thrill.
“It cannot be she,” he said to himself, “she went to Paris yesterday; but if it is—who is the man?”
He altered his plans, went back to his rooms, and sat moodily down in his favorite chair—an unpleasant, gnawing uncertainty in his heart.