So far I felt a certain faith in my ability to guess the hidden action of the drama that was being played in the Hall; but beyond this point my imagination would not carry me. I could not foresee the attitude of either of the two protagonists. I thought over what I remembered of my conversation with Banks on the hill, but the only essential that stuck in my mind was that suggestion of the “pull,” the admittedly unfair advantage that he might possibly use as a last resource. I was conscious of an earnest wish that that reserve would not be called upon. I felt, intuitively, that it would shame both the chauffeur and his master. I had still less material for any imaginative construction of old Jervaise’s part in the scene now being played; a scene that I could only regard as being of the greatest moment. Indeed I believed that the conversation then taking place would reach the climax of the whole episode, and I bitterly regretted that I had apparently no possible chance of ever learning the detail of that confrontation of owner and servant. Worse still, I realised that I might have some difficulty in gathering the upshot. Whether Banks were accepted or rejected the Jervaises would not confide the story to their visitors.
I must admit that my curiosity was immensely piqued; though I flatter myself that my interest was quite legitimate, that it contained no element of vulgar inquisitiveness. Nevertheless, I did want to know—the outcome, at least—and I could decide upon no intermediary who would give me just the information I desired.
Miss Tattersall I ruled out at once. She so persistently vulgarised the affair. I felt that in her mind she regarded the elopement as subject for common gossip; also, that she was not free from a form of generalised jealousy. She did not want Arthur Banks for herself, but she evidently thought him a rather admirable masculine figure and deplored his “infatuation” for Brenda. Moreover, I had a notion that I had fallen from Miss Tattersall’s favour. There was something in her expression when she discovered my deceit in pretending ignorance of the heroic chauffeur that portrayed a sense of personal injury. No doubt she thought that I had squeezed her confidence, while I treacherously withheld my own; and she would certainly regret that confession of having peeped into Brenda’s room, even if she did not guess that I had inferred the final shame of using the keyhole. Subsequent evidence showed that my only mistake in this connection was a fatuous underestimation of the lady’s sense of injury.
Of the other members of the house-party, Frank Jervaise was the only one who seemed likely or able to post me in the progress of the affair, and I felt considerable hesitation in approaching him. I could not expect a return of that mood of weakness he had exhibited the night before; and I had no intention of courting a direct snub from him.
There remained Banks, himself, but I could not possibly have questioned him, even if my sympathies had still been engaged on his side.