“Do you want the drawbacks insisted on?” he asked.
“I don’t want them mitigated; state them clearly. Include what you told me about the trouble with the natives, and the poisoned arrows.”
Then a light broke in upon Singleton. He had not placed his host in the same category with Mrs. Lansing and Sylvia. It looked as if he had changed his plans and wished to prevent the company from being formed. This caused Singleton to consider how far he would be justified in assisting him. He could honestly go some length in doing so, and, having fallen a victim to Sylvia’s charm, he was willing to do his utmost.
“There’s no doubt that some of the facts are discouraging,” he said.
Herbert looked at him keenly.
“That is what struck me. Suppose you think the thing over and bring me down a fresh report a week from to-day. Stay a day or two, if you’re not busy; I can get you some shooting, and we can talk over any points that seem to require it at leisure.”
Singleton sat silent a moment. He wanted to come back, and he did not believe the concession could be profitably worked by any usual methods. For all that, he thought he could make something of the property; it was not altogether worthless, though it would require exceptional treatment.
“Perhaps that would be better,” he replied, “I should be delighted to make another visit.”
Herbert took up the paper and looked at Singleton with a smile as he flung it into the fire.
“Now I think we’ll go down,” he said. “Mrs. Lansing will be waiting for us.”
Singleton spent the remainder of the evening with great content, talking to Sylvia. When she left him, Herbert met her in the hall.
“Thanks,” he smiled meaningly. “Did you find the man interesting?”
“To some extent,” returned Sylvia; “he’s a type that’s new to me. Still, of course, he’s a little raw, and inclined to be serious. I think one could see too much of him.”
“He’s coming down again in a week.”
“Oh!” said Sylvia, with signs of protest. “And after that?”
“I don’t think he’ll make a third visit.”
A FORCED RETIREMENT
Singleton came down again to Brantholme, bringing his amended report, which met with Herbert’s approval. He spent one wet day walking through turnip fields and stubble in search of partridges, and two delightful evenings with Mrs. Lansing and Sylvia, and then he was allowed to depart. He had served his purpose, and Herbert was glad to get rid of him. Lansing generally found it desirable to drop men for whom he had no more use; but he had not done with Singleton.