“Oh? Thinking of opening a branch here? Well, there’s Stock’s—but I doubt if you’d fit in there—”
“Fit? Why not fit? Stocks are my line.”
“I think I’d try the Bel-Air if I were you—”
“Which is nearest?” asked Charles Svendt, looking round depreciatively.
“Bel-Air. Just along the tunnel there—”
“Good Lord! Along the tunnel—”
“Excuse me for a moment. I’ve got some things coming by this boat. I must see to them,” and Graeme sped away to attend to his frivolities.
“And what special business brings you to Sark, Pixley?” asked Graeme, as they passed through the tunnel of rock and climbed the steep way of the Creux—its high banks masses of ferns, its hedges ablaze with honeysuckle and roses, its trees interwoven into a thick canopy overhead,—a living green tunnel shot with quivering sunbeams. All of which was lost on Charles Svendt, whose chest was going like a steam-pump and whose legs were quivering with the unusual strain. Graeme regretted that he had not been landed on the ladders at Havre Gosselin, where he himself came ashore. He would dearly have liked to follow the portly one up those ladders and heard his comments.
In reply to Graeme’s question he shook his head mutely and staggered on—past the upper reaches, where the corded roots of the overhanging trees came thrusting through the banks like twisting serpents; past the wells of sweet water that lay dark and still below, and ran over into the road, and trickled away down the sides in little streams; out into the sunshine and the quickening of the breeze;—till he dropped exhausted into a chair outside the door of the Bel-Air.
He sat there panting for close on five minutes, with unaccustomed perspiration streaming down his red face, and then he said “Demn!” and proceeded to mop himself up with his handkerchief.
Then he held up a finger to a distant waiter in the dining-room, and when he came, murmured, “Whisky—soda—two,” and fanned himself vigorously till they came.
“Better?” asked Graeme, as they nodded and drank.
“Heap better! What a demnable place to get into!”
“There are one or two other entrances—”
“Now,” he said presently, when his heart had got back to normal and he had lit a cigarette. “Let’s talk business. Am I in time?”
“For the wedding? Just in time. It’s tomorrow.”
“Aw—er—you know what I’ve come for, I suppose?”
“I can imagine, but you may as well save yourself useless trouble. You can’t do anything.”
“Sure. English—I should say, British—law doesn’t run here, and you’ve no locus standi if it did.”
“She’s under age and her guardian objects. I represent him.”