“Well, one of them isn’t in London, anyway,” I said.
“Why? Who?” she returned, staring, and I realised that she was too short-sighted to make out the identity of the advancing figure from that distance.
“Who is it?” she repeated with a hint of testiness.
I had seen by then that I had inadvertently given myself away, and I had not the wit to escape from the dilemma.
“I don’t know,” I said, hopelessly embarrassed. “It—it just struck me that this might be Banks.”
He had come nearer to us now, near enough for Miss Tattersall to recognise him; and her amazement was certainly greater than mine.
“But you’re right,” she said with a little catch in her breath. “It is Banks, out of uniform.”
For a moment I hoped that her surprise might cover my slip, but she was much too acute to pass such a palpable blunder as that.
“It is,” she repeated; “but how did you know? I thought you had never seen him.”
“Just an intuition,” I prevaricated and tried, I knew at the time how uselessly, to boast a pride in my powers of insight.
The effect upon my companion was neither that I hoped to produce, nor that I more confidently expected. Instead of chaffing me, pressing me for an explanation of the double game I had presumably been playing, she looked at me with doubt and an obvious loss of confidence. Just so, I thought, she might have looked at me if I had tried to take some unfair advantage of her.
“Well, I suppose it’s time to get ready for church,” she remarked coldly. “Are you coming?”
I forget what I replied. She was already slipping into the background of my interest. I was so extraordinarily intrigued by the sight of Arthur Banks, the chauffeur, boldly ringing at the front door of Jervaise Hall.
NOTES AND QUERIES
Miss Tattersall had started for the house and her preparations for church-going, but she paused on the hither side of the drive and pretended an interest in the flower beds, until Banks had been admitted to the Hall.
I could not, at that distance, mark the expression on John’s face when he answered the bell, but I noticed that there was a perceptible interval of colloquy on the doorstep before the strange visitor was allowed to enter. I should have liked to hear that conversation, and to know what argument Banks used in overcoming John’s reluctance to carry the astounding message that the chauffeur had “called” and wished to see Mr. Jervaise. But, no doubt, John’s diplomacy was equal to the occasion. Banks’s fine effort in self-assertion was probably wasted. John would not mention the affront to the family’s prestige. He would imply that Banks had come in the manner proper to his condition. “Banks wishes to know if he might speak to you a minute, sir,” was all the warning poor old Jervaise would get of this frontal attack upon his dignities.