“Oh, he did! And what—?” She gave a swallow to restrain her impatience. “What did you say to him, Aunt Abby? Have you answered the letter?” This was very demurely said.
“Yes. Of course, I wrote him not to come. I preferred that he should not come.”
Could she have but seen Lois’s face!
“Oh, you did!”
“Yes. I want no hypocrites around me.” Her head was up and her cap was bristling. “I came very near telling him so, too. I told him that I had it from good authority that he had not behaved in altogether the most gentlemanly way—consorting openly with a hussy on the street! I think he knows whom I referred to.”
“But, Aunt Abby, I do not know that she was. I only heard she was,” defended Lois.
“Who told you?”
“Well, he knows,” said Miss Abigail, with decision. “Though I think he had very little to do to discuss such matters with you.”
“But, Aunt Abby, I think you had better have let him come. We could have shown him our disapproval in our manner. And possibly he might have some explanations?”
“I guess he won’t make any mistake about that. The hypocrite! To sit up and talk to me as if he were a bishop! I have no doubt he would have explanation enough. They always do.”
GENERAL KEITH VISITS STRANGE LANDS
Just then the wheel turned. Interest was awaking in England in American enterprises, and, fortunately for Keith, he had friends on that side.
Grinnell Rhodes now lived in England, dancing attendance on his wife, the daughter of Mr. Creamer of Creamer, Crustback & Company, who was aspiring to be in the fashionable set there.
Matheson, the former agent of the Wickershams, with whom Ferdy had quarrelled, had gone back to England, and had acquired a reputation as an expert. By one of the fortuitous happenings so hard to account for, about this time Keith wrote to Rhodes, and Rhodes consulted Matheson, who knew the properties. Ferdy had incurred the Scotchman’s implacable hate, and the latter was urged on now by a double motive. To Rhodes, who was bored to death with the life he was leading, the story told by the Wickershams’ old superintendent was like a trumpet to a war-horse.
Out of the correspondence with Rhodes grew a suggestion to Keith to come over and try to place the Rawson properties with an English syndicate. Keith had, moreover, a further reason for going. He had not recovered from the blow of Miss Brooke’s refusal to let him visit Lois. He knew that in some way it was connected with his attention to Terpsichore; he knew that there was a misunderstanding, and felt that Wickersham was somehow connected with it. But he was too proud to make any further attempt to explain it.
Accordingly, armed with the necessary papers and powers, he arranged to go to England. He had control of and options on lands which were estimated to be worth several millions of dollars at any fair valuation.