“So do I,” Kelson groaned.
“At all events,” Hamar went on, “the first three months is nearly at an end. Who was she?”
“Miss Gladys Martin!”
“Where does she live?”
“I don’t know. I could divine nothing about her. She can’t have any vices.”
“I don’t suppose she has,” Hamar remarked dryly, “Not from the look of her anyway. But there is time yet. Matt! I’ve taken a fancy to that girl and I mean to get hold of her somehow. I wonder if she is related to Martin—Davenport’s partner! Jerusalem! What sport if she is!”
“Why? Why sport?” Kelson asked.
“Dolt! Don’t you see! Martin is at our mercy. We are more than his rivals. We can drive him out of London any moment we like. His tricks indeed! Pshaw! Curtis can do them all right off the reel! And Curtis shall—we will show Martin up—make a laughing stock of him—ruin him! Unless—unless—”
“Great Scott! Don’t look so alarmed! Unless—supposing that girl is his daughter—unless he gives me permission to pay my addresses to her!”—and Hamar laughed coarsely.
LEON HAMAR CALLS ON THE MARTINS
“Where’s Gladys?” John Martin asked as he rose with an effort, stiff and tired, from the remains of a meat tea.
In reply Miss Templeton merely pointed a finger—and went on crocheting.
Following the direction indicated, John Martin stepped out on to the lawn, and glancing round the garden, called “Gladys!” Then he listened, and there came to him snatches of a song, the words of which, full of arch sentiment, allied with (and to a large extent dependent on), a unique knowledge of and love of nature—would not have disgraced a Herrick or a Raleigh—the music—a Schubert, or a Sullivan. John Martin had spared no money in educating Gladys, and she did him credit. He thought so now, as exhausted from a hard day’s poring over letters, he paused and leaned his back against a tree. A gentle breeze blew her notes to him, full of melody and mirth; fresh and young and tender—as tender as the rosebuds and violets that nestled at her bosom.
“By Jove!” John Martin murmured. “Fancy my having a daughter like Gladys! I ought to be jolly well pleased. And so I am. The only thing I fear, is, that she’ll marry some one who isn’t half good enough for her! But who would be good enough for her! God alone knows! And God alone knows whether she or I ought to decide! Gladys!”
“Hulloa!”, and the next moment a vision in pink emerged from the bushes.
“Gladys, I want to confide in you!”
“What’s wrong, Daddy, dear?” Gladys said, thrusting an arm through his and walking him gently along with her through the glade. “You weren’t at all nice to me when we parted this morning, but you look so wearied that I’ll be magnanimous and forgive you. What is it?”