At the end of that time he sat down suddenly at the writing-table, and scrawled a hasty note. His face, as he did so, was like the face of an old man, but without the tolerance of age.
Finishing, he rang for his servant. “Take this note,” he said, “and ask at the Brethaven Arms if a gentleman named Captain Grange is putting up there. If he is, send in the note, and wait for an answer. If he is not, bring it back.”
The man departed, and Nick resumed his prowling. It seemed that he could not rest. Once he went to the window and opened it to listen to the long roar of the sea, but the fury of the blast was such that he could scarcely stand against it. He shut it out, and resumed his tramp.
The return of his messenger brought him to a standstill.
“Captain Grange was there, sir. Here is his answer.”
Nick grabbed the note with a gesture that might have indicated either impatience or relief. He held the envelope between his teeth to slit it open, and they left a deep mark upon it.
he read. “If I can get to you through this
murderous storm, I will. Expect me at eight o’clock.—Yours,
“All right,” said Nick over his shoulder. “Captain Grange will dine with me.”
With the words he dropped the note into the fire, and then went away to dress.
BY SINGLE COMBAT
By eight o’clock Nick was lounging in the hall, awaiting his guest, but it was more than a quarter of an hour later that the latter presented himself.
Nick himself admitted him with a cheery grin. “Come in,” he said. “You’ve had a pretty filthy walk.”
“Infernal,” said Grange gloomily.
He entered with a heavy, rather bullied air, as if he had come against his will. Shaking hands with his host, he glanced at him somewhat suspiciously.
“Glad you managed to come,” said Nick hospitably.
“What did you want to see me for?” asked Grange.
“The pleasure of your society, of course.” Nick’s benignity was unassailable, but there was a sharp edge to it somewhere of which Grange was uneasily aware. “Come along and dine. We can talk afterwards.”
Grange accompanied him moodily to the dining-room. “I thought you were away,” he remarked, as they sat down.
“I was,” said Nick. “Came back last night. When do you sail?”
“On Friday. I came down to say good-bye.”
“Muriel is at Weir,” observed Nick.
“Yes. I shall go on there to-morrow. Daisy is only here for a night or two to pack up her things.”
“And then?” said Nick.
Grange stiffened perceptibly. “I don’t know what her plans are. She never makes up her mind till the last minute.”
Nick laughed. “She evidently hasn’t taken you into her confidence. She is going East this winter.”