Mrs. Heasant knew Clovis slightly, and was rather afraid of him. It was not difficult to read between the lines of his successful hoax. In a chastened mood she rapped once more at Bertie’s door.
“A letter from Mr. Sangrail. It’s all been a stupid hoax. He wrote those other letters. Why, where are you going?”
Bertie had opened the door; he had on his hat and overcoat.
“I’m going for a doctor to come and see if anything’s the matter with you. Of course it was all a hoax, but no person in his right mind could have believed all that rubbish about murder and suicide and jewels. You’ve been making enough noise to bring the house down for the last hour or two.”
“But what was I to think of those letters?” whimpered Mrs. Heasant.
“I should have known what to think of them,” said Bertie; “if you choose to excite yourself over other people’s correspondence it’s your own fault. Anyhow, I’m going for a doctor.”
It was Bertie’s great opportunity, and he knew it. His mother was conscious of the fact that she would look rather ridiculous if the story got about. She was willing to pay hush-money.
“I’ll never open your letters again,” she promised. And Clovis has no more devoted slave than Bertie Heasant.
“I suppose we shall never see Wilfred Pigeoncote here now that he has become heir to the baronetcy and to a lot of money,” observed Mrs. Peter Pigeoncote regretfully to her husband.
“Well, we can hardly expect to,” he replied, “seeing that we always choked him off from coming to see us when he was a prospective nobody. I don’t think I’ve set eyes on him since he was a boy of twelve.”
“There was a reason for not wanting to encourage his acquaintanceship,” said Mrs. Peter. “With that notorious failing of his he was not the sort of person one wanted in one’s house.”
“Well, the failing still exists, doesn’t it?” said her husband; “or do you suppose a reform of character is entailed along with the estate?”
“Oh, of course, there is still that drawback,” admitted the wife, “but one would like to make the acquaintance of the future head of the family, if only out of mere curiosity. Besides, cynicism apart, his being rich will make a difference in the way people will look at his failing. When a man is absolutely wealthy, not merely well-to-do, all suspicion of sordid motive naturally disappears; the thing becomes merely a tiresome malady.”