“What shall you do?” Denry inquired in amicable curiosity.
“Well,” said Cotterill, “that’s the point. I’ve got a brother a builder in Toronto, you know. He’s doing very well; building is building over there. I wrote to him a bit since, and he replied by the next mail —by the next mail—that what he wanted was just a man like me to overlook things. He’s getting an old man now, is John. So, you see, there’s an opening waiting for me.”
As if to say, “The righteous are never forsaken.”
“I tell you all this as you’re a friend of the family like,” he added.
Then, after an expanse of vagueness, he began hopefully, cheerfully, undauntedly:
“Even now if I could get hold of a couple of thousand I could pull through handsome—and there’s plenty of security for it.”
“Bit late now, isn’t it?”
“Not it. If only some one who really knows the town, and has faith in the property market, would come down with a couple of thousand—well, he might double it in five years.”
“Yes,” said Cotterill. “Look at Clare Street.”
Clare Street was one of his terra-cotta masterpieces.
“You, now,” said Cotterill, insinuating. “I don’t expect anyone can teach you much about the value o’ property in this town. You know as well as I do. If you happened to have a couple of thousand loose—by gosh! it’s a chance in a million.”
“Yes,” said Denry. “I should say that was just about what it was.”
“I put it before you,” Cotterill proceeded, gathering way, and missing the flavour of Denry’s remark. “Because you’re a friend of the family. You’re so often here. Why, it’s pretty near ten years....”
Denry sighed: “I expect I come and see you all about once a fortnight fairly regular. That makes two hundred and fifty times in ten years. Yes....”
“A couple of thou’,” said Cotterill, reflectively.
“Two hundred and fifty into two thousand—eight. Eight pounds a visit. A shade thick, Cotterill, a shade thick. You might be half a dozen fashionable physicians rolled into one.”
Never before had he called the Councillor “Cotterill” unadorned. Me Cotterill flushed and rose.
Denry does not appear to advantage in this interview. He failed in magnanimity. The only excuse that can be offered for him is that Mr Cotterill had called him “young man” once or twice too often in the course of ten years. It is subtle.
“No,” whispered Ruth, in all her wraps. “Don’t bring it up to the door. I’ll walk down with you to the gate, and get in there.”