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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 196 pages of information about The Jervaise Comedy.

IX

BANKS

I was awakened by the sound of footsteps on the road—­probably the first footsteps that had passed during the hour and a half that I had been asleep.  I was still lazily wondering whether it was worth while to look out, when the tarpaulin was smartly drawn off the car and revealed me to the eyes of the car’s guardian, Arthur Banks.

His first expression was merely one of surprise.  He looked as startled as if he had found any other unlikely thing asleep in the car.  Then I saw his surprise give way to suspicion.  His whole attitude stiffened, and I was given an opportunity to note that he was one of those men who grow cool and turn pale when they are angry.

My first remark to him was ill-chosen.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” I said.

Probably my last thought before I went to sleep had concerned the hope that Banks would be the first person I should see when I woke; and that thought now came up and delivered itself almost without my knowledge.

“They have put you in charge, I suppose,” he returned grimly.  “Well, you needn’t have worried.  I’d just come to take the car back to the house.”

I had again been taken for a spy, but this time I was not stirred to righteous indignation.  The thing had become absurd.  I had for all intents and purposes been turned out of Jervaise Hall for aiding and abetting Banks, and now he believed me to be a sort of prize crew put aboard the discovered motor by the enemy.

My situation had its pathetic side.  I had, by running away, finally branded myself in the Jervaises’ eyes as a mean and despicable traitor to my own order; and now it appeared that I was not to be afforded even the satisfaction of having proved loyal to the party of the Home Farm.  I was a pariah, the suspect of both sides, the ill-treated hero of a romantic novel.  I ought to have wept, but instead of that I laughed.

Perhaps I was still a little dazed by sleep, for I was under the impression that any kind of explanation would be quite hopeless, and I had, then, no intention of offering any.  All I wanted was to be taken to Hurley Junction; to get back to town and forget the Jervaises’ existence.

Banks’s change of expression when I laughed began to enlighten my fuddled understanding.  I realised that I had no longer to deal with a suspicious, wooden-headed lawyer, but with a frank, kindly human being.

“I don’t see the joke,” he said, but his look of cold anger was fading rapidly.

“The joke,” I said, “is a particularly funny one.  I have quarrelled with the entire Jervaise family and their house-party.  I have been openly accused by Frank Jervaise of having come to Thorp-Jervaise solely to aid you in your elopement; and my duplicity being discovered I hastened to run away, leaving all my baggage behind, in the fear of being stood up against a wall and shot at sight. 

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