“Are you my librarian?” he asked.
The man rose at once.
“Certainly, sir,” he answered. “My name is Woodall. You may have forgotten it. I am at work now upon a new catalogue.”
“I have a quarto Shakespeare, I think,”
he said, “that I marked at
Sotheby’s, also a manuscript Thomas a Kempis, and a first edition of
Herrick. I should like to see them.”
“By all means,” the man answered, hurrying to the shelves. “You have, also, a wonderful rare collection of manuscripts, purchased from the Abbey St. Jouvain, and a unique Horace. If you will permit me.”
Wingrave spent half an hour examining his treasures, leaving his attendant astonished.
“A millionaire who understands!” he exclaimed softly as he resumed his seat. “Miraculous!”
Wingrave passed into the hall, and summoned his major domo.
“Show me the ballroom,” he ordered, “and the winter garden.”
The little man in quiet black clothes—Wingrave abhorred liveries—led him respectfully through rooms probably unequaled for magnificence in England. He spoke of the exquisite work of French and Italian artists; with a gesture almost of reverence he pointed out the carving in the wonderful white ballroom.
Wingrave listened and watched with immovable face. Just as they had completed their tour, Morrison approached.
“Mr. Lumley and Lady Ruth Barrington are in the library, sir,” he announced.
“I am coming at once,” he said.
THE WAY OF PEACE
They awaited his coming in varying moods. Barrington was irritable and restless, Lady Ruth gave no signs of any emotion whatever. She had the air of a woman who had no longer fear or hope. Only her eyes were a little weary.
Barrington was walking up and down the room, his hands in his pockets, his eyes fixed upon his wife. Every now and then he glanced nervously towards her.
“Of course,” he said, “if he wants a settlement—well, there’s an end of all things. And I don’t see why he shouldn’t. He hasn’t lent money out of friendship. He hates me—always has done, and sometimes I wonder whether he doesn’t hate you too!”
Lady Ruth shivered a little. Her husband’s words came to her with peculiar brutality. It was as though he were blaming her for not having proved more attractive to the man who held them in the hollow of his hand.
“Doesn’t it strike you,” she murmured, “that a discussion like this is scarcely in the best possible taste? We cannot surmise what he wants—what he is going to do. Let us wait!”
The door opened and Wingrave entered. To Barrington, who greeted him with nervous cordiality, he presented the same cold, impenetrable appearance; Lady Ruth, with quicker perceptions, noticed at once the change. She sat up in her chair eagerly. It was what she had prayed for, this—but was it for good or evil? Her eyes sought his eagerly. So much depended upon his first few words.