“I hope not, only, don’t you see, you’ve made me claim an existing young lady as my wife, and if she turned up some time or other—”
“But she won’t! When she left school she went out to Australia to join her uncle there, and she will in all probability never come back to England.”
Hugh drew a sigh of relief. “That’s all right then! It’s all right, little girl; it is all right. I believe things are going to be brighter for you now.”
“Thanks to you, Hugh!”
“You know there is nothing in this world—” He looked down at the lovely face, alive with gratitude and happiness. His dreams were ended, the “might-have-been” would never be, but he knew that there was peace in that little breast at last.
JOAN MEREDYTH, TYPIST
Mr. Philip Slotman touched the electric buzzer on his desk and then watched the door. He was an unpleasant—looking man, strangely corpulent as to body, considering his face was cast in lean and narrow mould, the nose large, prominent and hooked, the lips full, fleshy, and of cherry—like redness, the eyes small, mean, close together and deep set. The over—corpulent body was attired lavishly. It was dressed in a fancy waistcoat, a morning coat, elegantly striped trousers of lavender hue and small pointed—toed, patent—leather boots, with bright tan uppers. The rich aroma of an expensive cigar hung about the atmosphere of Mr. Slotman’s office. This and his clothes, and the large diamond ring that twinkled on his finger, proclaimed him a person of opulence.
The door opened and a girl came in; she carried a notebook and her head very high. She trod like a young queen, and in spite of the poor black serge dress she wore, there was much of regal dignity about her. Dark brown hair that waved back from a broad and low forehead, a pair of lustrous eyes filled now with contempt and aversion, eyes shielded by lashes that, when she slept, lay like a silken fringe upon her cheeks. Her nose was redeemed from the purely classical by the merest suggestion of tip-tiltedness, that gave humour, expression and tenderness to the whole face—tenderness and sweetness that with strength was further betrayed by the finely cut, red-lipped mouth and the strong little chin, carried so proudly on the white column of her neck.
Her figure was that of a young goddess, and a goddess she looked as she swept disdainfully into Mr. Philip Slotman’s office, shorthand notebook in her hand.
“I want you to take a letter to Jarvis and Purcell, Miss Meredyth,” he said. “Please sit down. Er—hum—’Dear Sirs, With regard to your last communication received on the fourteenth instant, I beg—’”
Mr. Slotman moved, apparently negligently, from his leather-covered armchair. He rose, he sauntered around the desk, then suddenly he flung off all pretence at lethargy, and with a quick step put himself between the girl and the door.