“They don’t give one much time here, and it’s an awkward station,” Herbert said, with a careless air.
It struck him that Sylvia’s acquaintance with the man must have ripened rapidly, for he was well informed of her movements; but this was no concern of his. He had thought for some time that a match between her and George would be unsuitable. For a while he and Bland talked about indifferent matters, and then the latter turned to him with a smile.
“I was very lucky at a small steeplechase,” he said. “Backed a rank outsider that only a few friends of mine believed in. Do you know of anything that’s bound to go up on the Stock Exchange? It’s in your line, I think.”
“I don’t. Such stocks are remarkably scarce. If there’s any strong reason for a rise in value, buyers anticipate it.”
“Then perhaps you know of something that has a better chance than the rest? I expect your tip’s worth having.”
“You might try—rubber!”
“Rubber? Hasn’t that been a little overdone?”
Herbert considered, for this remark confirmed his private opinion. Rubber shares had been in strong demand, but he thought they would not continue in general favor. The suggestion made by an outsider might be supposed to express the view held by small speculators, which had its effect on the market.
“I gave you my idea, but I can’t guarantee success,” he said. “You must use your judgment, and don’t blame me if things go wrong.”
“Of course not; the risk’s mine,” returned Bland; and Herbert thought he meant to follow his advice.
A few minutes later, the train which they were waiting for came in, and Herbert tactfully stood aside when Bland helped Sylvia to alight. Watching her face, he concluded by the absence of any sign of surprise that the meeting had been arranged. Bland, however, had little opportunity for conversation amid the bustle; and the train was on the point of starting before Sylvia saw Herbert. He got in as it was moving, and she looked at him sharply.
“I didn’t expect you would meet me.”
“So I supposed,” he told her.
“Oh, well,” she said, smiling, “you might have been useful.”
Herbert thought she might have thanked him for coming, considering that he had, by his wife’s orders, made an inconvenient journey; but gratitude was not one of Sylvia’s virtues.
“Did you enjoy yourself?” he asked.
“Yes, on the whole, but I’ve been dreadfully unlucky. In fact, I’m threatened by a financial crisis.”
Herbert made a rueful grimace.
“I know what that means; I’m getting used to it. But we’ll talk the matter over another time. I suppose I’m neglecting my duties; I ought to lecture you.”
“Isn’t Muriel capable of doing all that’s necessary in that line?”
“She’s hampered by not knowing as much as I do,” Herbert retorted with a meaning smile.