In fact, the attitude of mind in which he more or less succeeded in arraying himself was that of one who goes to see a serious conjurer. It would be rather fun, he thought, to see a table dancing. But there was not wholly wanting that inexplicable tendency of some natures deliberately to deceive themselves on what lies nearest to their hearts.
Mr. Vincent had not yet arrived when he was shown upstairs, even though Laurie himself was late. (This was partly deliberate. He thought it best to show a little nonchalance.) There was only a young clergyman in the room with the ladies; and the two were introduced.
“Mr. Baxter—Mr. Jamieson.”
He seemed a harmless young man, thought Laurie, and plainly a little nervous at the situation in which he found himself, as might a greyhound carry himself in a kennel of well-bred foxhounds. He was very correctly dressed, with Roman collar and stock, and obviously had not long left a theological college. He had an engaging kind of courtesy, ecclesiastically cut features, and curly black hair. He sat balancing a delicate cup adroitly on his knee.
“Mr. Jamieson is so anxious to know all that is going on,” explained Lady Laura, with a voluble frankness. “He thinks it so necessary to be abreast of the times, as he said to me the other day.”
Laurie assented, grimly pitying the young man for his indiscreet confidences. The clergyman looked priggish in his efforts not to do so.
“He has a class of young men on Sundays,” continued the hostess—“(Another biscuit, Maud darling?)—whom he tries to interest in all modern movements. He thinks it so important.”
Mr. Jamieson cleared his throat in a virile manner.
“Just so,” he said; “exactly so.”
“And so I told him he must really come and meet Mr. Vincent.... I can’t think why he is so late; but he has so many calls upon his time, that I am sure I wonder—”
“Mr. Vincent,” announced the footman.
A rather fine figure of a man came forward into the room, dressed in much better taste than Laurie somehow had expected, and not at all like the type of an insane dissenting minister in broadcloth which he had feared. Instead, it was a big man that he saw, stooping a little, inclined to stoutness, with a full curly beard tinged with grey, rather overhung brows, and a high forehead, from which the same kind of curly greyish hair was beginning to retreat. He was in a well-cut frock-coat and dark trousers, with the collar of the period and a dark tie.