“I believe you are a painter,” said Noel—“I have chambers at Westminster, and want to have my balcony and front windows painted. I’ve heard of you through the Miss Mainwarings, and as I’m in a hurry to get the job completed at once, I have called round to know if you are disengaged.”
“Of course you are, Dove,” said his wife.
“Softly, my only love,” replied her husband. “Sir, be pleased to take a seat. I shall be glad to do my best for you, and any recommendation from the young ladies you mention is most gratifying to me. Sweet young ladies they was, and ever will be—and my wife and me, we mourns unceasing for their departure.”
“Speak for yourself, Dove,” said the wife—“we are doing better with our present attics than we ever did with our late attics. Sir, you’ll excuse me, but truthful I ever will be at all costs.”
“Can you paint my windows or not?” said Noel, rising to his feet, and speaking with some asperity. “If you are too busy to undertake the work pray say so, and let me seek some one else, for my time is precious.”
“Of course he’ll do it, sir,” said Mrs. Dove. “Say yes to the gentleman, Dove, and thank him, and have done with it.”
“Well, sir, I am very busy,” said Dove. “I haven’t a moment to call my own for weeks to come, but all the same, I wouldn’t disoblige the late attics for a good deal, so I’ll just put off the Cooks, who are wild to get their house-cleaning through, and Mr. Martin, who keeps the bacon and ’am shop, must wait. Yes, sir, I wait your pleasure, sir—I can come.”
“To-morrow morning, then, early,” said Noel, “this is my address. Ask for my servant when you arrive, and he will show you what you are to do, and will also give you directions as to the colored paint I wish used. I must hurry off now, for I’m going down to the country on some very sad business. You will be sorry to hear, Mr. Dove, that Miss Daisy Mainwaring has lost a considerable sum of money, and the poor little child is in such trouble about it that she has run away. Of course, I don’t believe for a moment that she has really lost the money—of course it was stolen from her. Well, good-bye, I’m going to seek her, and to try to catch the thief. Be sure you arrive at my house in good time in the morning, Dove.”
“Yes, sir, very sorry to hear your bad news,” said Dove, in a self-possessed voice, but Arthur saw that his color had changed, and he wanted no stronger clue to confirm his suspicions. When he got into the street he not only consulted his watch, but a time-table. A later train than he had intended to travel by would take it to Rosebury early in the morning. He would go by this train. Now he jumped into a hansom and drove to his chambers. His servant came to him, to whom he gave hasty directions.
“You’re to buy the paint yourself, Lawson; see that it is properly mixed, and the right shade. Move the plants from the balcony early in the morning—the man will arrive in good time, and listen, Lawson, I don’t want him to be too closely watched.”