“You have opportunities of finding out,” Barrington suggested.
“And secondly,” Aynesworth continued, ignoring the interruption, “whatever the right or the wrong of this matter may be, I am in receipt of a salary from Sir Wingrave Seton, and I cannot betray his confidence.”
Barrington also rose to his feet. He was beginning to recognize the hopelessness of his task.
“This is final, Mr. Aynesworth?” he asked.
“Absolutely!” was the firm reply.
Barrington bowed stiffly, and moved towards the door. On the threshold he paused.
“I trust, Mr. Aynesworth,” he said hesitatingly, “that you will not regard this as an ordinary attempt at bribery and corruption. I have simply asked you to aid me in setting right a great injustice.”
“It is a subtle distinction, Mr. Barrington,” Aynesworth answered, “but I will endeavor to keep in mind your point of view.”
Barrington drove straight home, and made his way directly to his study. Now that he was free from his wife’s influence, and looked back upon his recent interview, he realized for the first time the folly and indignity of the whole proceedings. He was angry that, a man of common sense, keen witted and farseeing in the ordinary affairs of life, should have placed himself so completely in a false, not to say a humiliating position. And then, just as suddenly, he forgot all about himself, and remembered only her. With a breath of violets, and the delicate rustling of half-lifted skirts, she had come softly into the room, and stood looking at him inquiringly. Her manner seemed to indicate more a good-natured curiosity than real anxiety. She made a little grimace as he shook his head.
“I have failed,” he said shortly. “That young man is a prig!”
“I was afraid,” she said, “that he would be obstinate. Men with eyes of that color always are!”
“What are we to do, Ruth?”
“What can we?” she answered calmly. “Nothing but wait. He is going to America. It is a terrible country for accidents. Something may happen to him there! Do go and change your things, there’s a dear, and look in at the Westinghams’ for me for an hour. We’ll just get some supper and come away.”
“I will be ready in ten minutes,” Barrington answered. He understood that he was to ask no questions, nor did he. But all the time his man was hurrying him into his clothes, his brain was busy weaving fancies.
Mr. Sinclair, or as he preferred to be called, Professor Sinclair, waved a white kid glove in the direction of the dancing hall.
“This way, ladies and gentlemen!” he announced. “A beautiful valse just about to commence. Tickets, if you please! Ah! Glad to see you, Miss Cullingham! You’ll find—a friend of yours inside!”