Jarvis silently obeyed. As soon as he was alone, Granet threw himself into the easy-chair. He was filled with a bitter sense of being entrapped. He had been a little rash at Market Burnham, perhaps, but if any other man except Thomson had been sent there, his explanations would have been accepted without a word, and all this miserable complication would have been avoided. He thought over Isabel’s coming, all that she had said. She had left him no loophole. She had the air of a young woman who knew her own mind excellently well. A single word from her to Thomson and the whole superstructure of his ingeniously built-up life might tumble to pieces. He sat with folded arms in a grim attitude of unrest, thinking bitter thoughts. They rolled into his brain like black shadows. He had been honest in the first instance. With ancestors from both countries, he had deliberately chosen the country to which he felt the greatest attachment. He remembered his long travels in Germany, he remembered on his return his growing disapproval of English slackness, her physical and moral decadence. Her faults had inspired him not with the sorrow of one of her real sons, but with the contempt of one only half bound to her by natural ties. The ground had been laid ready for the poison. He had started honestly enough. His philosophy had satisfied himself. He had felt no moral degradation in wearing the uniform of one country for the benefit of another. All this self-disgust he dated from the coming of Geraldine Conyers. Now he was weary of it all, face to face, too, with a disagreeable and insistent problem.
He started suddenly in his chair. An interruption ordinary enough, but never without a certain startling effect, had broken in upon his thoughts. The telephone on his table was ringing insistently. He rose to his feet and glanced at the clock as he crossed the room. It was five minutes past twelve. As he took up the receiver a familiar voice greeted him.
“Is that Ronnie? Yes, this is Lady Anselman. Your uncle told me to ring you up to see if you were in. He wants you to come round.”
“Do come, Ronnie,” his aunt continued. “I don’t suppose it’s anything important but your uncle seems to want it. No, I sha’n’t see you. I’m just going to bed. I have been playing bridge. I’m sure the duchess cheats—I have never won at her house in my life. I’ll tell your uncle you’ll come, then, Ronnie. . . . Good night!”
Granet laid down the receiver. Somehow or other, the idea of action, even at that hour of the night was a relief to him. He called to Jarvis and gave him a few orders. Afterwards he turned out and walked through the streets—curiously lit and busy it seemed to him—to the corner of Park Lane, and up to the great mansion fronting the Park, which had belonged to the Anselmans for two generations. There were few lights in the windows. He was admitted at once and passed on to his uncle’s own servant.