The man laid the letter aside and looked up.
“That’s the last paragraph of the last communication I had from him. And they’re not the words of a monstrous tyrant who is utterly heartless, eh?”
The girl made no answer. Her emotion was too strong for her. Two great tears rolled slowly down her beautiful cheeks.
The lawyer rose from his chair. He came round the desk and laid a gentle hand on the heaving shoulder, while Nancy strove to wipe her tears away with a wholly inadequate handkerchief.
“That’s right, my dear,” he said very gently. “Wipe them away. There’s no need to cry. Leslie’s done all a man in his peculiar position can do for you. You’ve got the whole wide world before you, and everything you can need for comfort—thanks to him. Now let’s forget about it all. Just take that paper back to school with you. And maybe you’ll write, or come and let me know what you think about it. If you feel like making your home with us, why, that way you’ll just complete our happiness. If you feel like going to your mother’s sister, Anna Scholes, I shan’t refuse you. Anyway, think about it all. That’s my big talk and it’s finished. Just get your overcoat on, and we’ll get right along home to food.”
The room was furnished with extreme modern luxury. The man standing over against the window with his broad back turned, somehow looked to be in perfect keeping with the setting his personal tastes had inspired. He was broad, squat, fat. His head and neck were set low upon his shoulders, and the hair oil was obvious on the longish dark hair which seemed to grow low down under his shirt collar.
The other man, seated in one of the many easy chairs, was in strong contrast. His was the familiar face of the agent, Idepski, dark, keen, watchful. He was smoking the cigarette to which he had helped himself from the gold box standing near him on the ornate desk.
“You seem to have made a bad mess of things.”
Nathaniel Hellbeam turned from the window and came back to his desk with quick, short, energetic strides.
He presented a picture of inflamed wrath. His fleshy, square face was flushed and almost purple. His small eyes were hot with anger. They snapped as he launched his harshly spoken verdict. His whole manner bristled with merciless intolerance.
He was enormously fat, and breathed heavily through clean shaven lips that protruded sensually. His age was doubtful, but suggested something under middle life. It was the gross bulk of the man that made it almost impossible to estimate closely. The only real youth about him was his dark, well oiled hair which possessed not a sign of greying in it.
He flung himself into the wide chair which gaped to receive him, and glared at the dark face of his visitor.