A dubious sort of day, one that seemed vainly trying to appear cheerful! A day that threw out half-promises, that showed tentatively on the sky a mottled blur where the sun should have been! On such a day, a month after that night in Lord Ronsdale’s rooms, Captain Forsythe, calling on John Steele, found himself admitted to the sitting-room. While waiting for an answer to his request to see Mr. Steele, he gazed disapprovingly around him. The rooms were partly dismantled; a number of boxes littering the place indicating preparations to move. Captain Forsythe surveyed these cases, more or less filled; then he shook his head and lighted a cigar. But as he smoked he seemed asking himself a question; he had not yet found the answer when a footstep was heard and the subject of his ruminations entered the room. John Steele’s face was paler than it had been; thinner, like that of a man who had recently suffered some severe illness.
“Ah, Forsythe!” he said, with an assumption of cheeriness. “So good of you!”
“That’s all very well,” was the answer. “But what about those?” With his cigar he indicated vaguely the boxes.
“Those? Not yet all packed, are they? Lazy beggars, your London servants, just before leaving you!” he laughed.
“See here!” Forsythe looked at him. “You’re not well enough yet to—”
“Never felt better!”
“No chance to get you to change your mind, I suppose?”
“Not in the least!”
For a few moments Forsythe said nothing; then, “Weed?” he asked, offering Steele a cigar.
“Don’t believe I’ll begin just yet a while.”
“Oh!” significantly. “Quite fit, eh?” Forsythe’s tone sounded, in the least, scoffing; John Steele went to the window; stood with his back to it. A short time passed; the military man puffed more quickly. It seemed the irony of fate, or friendship, that now that he was just beginning to get better acquainted with Steele the latter should inconsistently determine to leave London.
“Anything I can do for you when you’re away?” began Captain Forsythe. “Command me, if there is. Needn’t say—”
“There’s only one thing,” John Steele looked at him; his voice was steady, quiet. “And we’ve already spoken about that. You will let me know if Ronsdale doesn’t keep to the letter of the condition?”
“Very well.” Captain Forsythe’s expression changed slightly, but the other did not appear to notice. “Although I don’t imagine the contingency will arise,” he added vaguely, looking at his cigar rather than John Steele.
“Nevertheless I shall leave with you certified copies of all the papers,” said Steele in a short matter-of-fact tone. “These, together with the one you furnished me, are absolutely conclusive.”