“DEAR MR. DELAINE—You were rightly informed, and the man you saw is my father. I was intentionally deceived ten years ago by a false report of his death. Into that, however, I need not enter. If you talked with him, as I understand you did, for half an hour, you will, I think, have gathered that his life has been unfortunately of little advantage either to himself or others. But that also is my personal affair—and his. And although in a moment of caprice, and for reasons not yet plain to me, he revealed himself to you, he appears still to wish to preserve the assumed name and identity that he set up shortly after leaving Manitoba, seventeen years ago. As far as I am concerned, I am inclined to indulge him. But you will, of course, take your own line, and will no doubt communicate it to me. I do not imagine that my private affairs or my father’s can be of any interest to you, but perhaps I may say that he is at present for a few days in the doctor’s hands and that I propose as soon as his health is re-established to arrange for his return to the States, where his home has been for so long. I am, of course, ready to make any arrangements for his benefit that seem wise, and that he will accept. I hope to come up to Lake Louise to-morrow, and shall bring with me one or two things that Lady Merton asked me to get for her. Next week I hope she may be able and inclined to take one or two of the usual excursions from the hotel, if Mr. Gaddesden goes on as well as we all expect. I could easily make the necessary arrangements for ponies, guides, &c.
“Upon my word, a cool hand! a very cool hand!” muttered Delaine in some perplexity, as he thrust the letter into his pocket, and strolled on toward the lake. His mind went back to the strange nocturnal encounter which had led to the development of this most annoying relation between himself and Anderson. He recalled the repulsive old man, his uneducated speech, the signs about him of low cunning and drunken living, his rambling embittered charges against his son, who, according to him, had turned his father out of the Manitoba farm in consequence of a family quarrel, and had never cared since to find out whether he was alive or dead. “Sorry to trouble you, sir, I’m sure—a genelman like you”—obsequious old ruffian!—“but my sons were always kittle-cattle, and George the worst of ’em all. If you would be so kind, sir, as to gie ‘im a word o’ preparation—”
Delaine could hear his own impatient reply: “I have nothing whatever, sir, to do with your business! Approach Mr. Anderson yourself if you have any claim to make.” Whereupon a half-sly, half-threatening hint from the old fellow that he might be disagreeable unless well handled; that perhaps “the lady” would listen to him and plead for him with his son.
Lady Merton! Good heavens! Delaine had been immediately ready to promise anything in order to protect her.