I hadn’t, though.
The brute! The bully! When my darling told me that story (I had to drag it out of her) I felt that if I had been within a hundred miles at the time, and had had to crawl home to the man on my hands and knees, there wouldn’t have been enough of him left now to throw on the dust-heap.
Nearly two years had passed since the debt was incurred, but I thought a Christian world could not go on a day longer until I had paid it back—with interest.
So fearing that my tender-hearted little woman, if she got wind of my purpose, might make me promise to put away my vow of vengeance, I got up early next morning and ordered the motor-car to be made ready for a visit to Castle Raa.
Old Tommy happened to be in the yard of the inn while I was speaking to the chauffeur, and he asked if he might be allowed to go with me. I agreed, and when I came out to start he was sitting in a corner of the car, with his Glengarry pulled down over his shaggy eyebrows, and his knotty hands leaning on a thick blackthorn that had a head as big as a turnip.
We did not talk too much on the way—I had to save up my strength for better business—and it was a long spin, but we got to our journey’s end towards the middle of the morning.
As we went up the drive (sacred to me by one poignant memory) an open carriage was coming down. The only occupant was a rather vulgar-looking elderly woman (in large feathers and flowing furbelows) whom I took to be the mother of Alma.
Three powdered footmen came to the door of the Castle as our car drove up. Their master was out riding. They did not know when he would be back.
“I’ll wait for him,” I said, and pushed into the hall, old Tommy following me.
I think the footmen had a mind to intercept us, but I suppose there was something in my face which told them it would be better not to try, so I walked into the first room with the door open.
It turned out to be the dining-room, with portraits of the owner’s ancestors all round the walls—a solid square of evil-looking rascals, every mother’s son of them.
Tommy, still resting his knotty hands on his big blackthorn, was sitting on the first chair by the door, and I on the end of the table, neither saying a word to the other, when there came the sound of horses’ hoofs on the path outside. A little later there were voices in the hall, both low and loud ones—the footmen evidently announcing my arrival and their master abusing them for letting me into the house.
At the next moment the man came sweeping into the dining-room. He was carrying a heavy hunting-crop and his flabby face was livid. Behind him came Alma. She was in riding costume and was bending a lithe whip in her gloved hands.
I saw that my noble lord was furious, but that mood suited me as well as another, so I continued to sit on the end of the table.