“Something else might be thought of, Lionel. I don’t see why you and Sibylla should not come to old West’s. The house is large enough; and Deb and Amilly couldn’t object to it for their sister. In point of right, half the house is mine: West said so when I became his partner; and I paid my share for the furniture. He asked if I’d not like to marry, and said there was the half of the house; but I told him I’d rather be excused. I might get a wife, you know, Lionel, who’d be for grumbling at me all day, as my mother does. Now, if you and Sibylla would come there, the matter as to your future would be at rest. I’d divide what I get between you and Miss Deb. Half to her for the extra cost you’d be to the housekeeping; the other half for pocket-money for you and Sibylla. I think you might make it do, Lionel: my share is quite two hundred a year. My own share I mean; besides what I hand over to Miss Deb, and transmit to the doctor, and other expenses. Could you manage with it?”
“Jan!” said Lionel, from between his quivering lips. “Dear Jan, there’s—”
They were interrupted. Bounding out at the drawing-room window, the very window at which Lucy Tempest had sat that night and watched the yew-tree, came Sibylla, fretfulness in the lines of her countenance, complaint in the tones of her voice.
“Mr. Jan Verner, I’d like to know what right you have to send for Lionel from the room when he is at dinner? If he is your brother, you have no business to forget yourself in that way. He can’t help your being his brother, I suppose; but you ought to know better than to presume upon it.”
“Be quiet, Lionel. I shall tell him of it. Never was such a thing heard of, as for a gentleman to be called out for nothing, from his table’s head! You do it again, Jan, and I shall order Tynn to shut the doors to you of Verner’s Pride.”
Jan received the lecture with the utmost equanimity, with imperturbable good nature. Lionel wound his arms about his wife, gravely and gently; whatever may have been the pain caused by her words, he suppressed it.
“Jan came here to tell me news that quite justified his sending for me, wherever I might be, or however occupied, Sibylla. He has succeeded in solving to-night the mystery which has hung over us; he has discovered who it is that we have been taking for Frederick Massingbird.”
“It is not Frederick Massingbird,” cried Sibylla, speaking sharply. “Captain Cannonby says that it cannot be.”
“No, it is not Frederick Massingbird—God be thanked!” said Lionel. “With that knowledge, we can afford to hear who it is bravely; can we not, Sibylla?”
“But why don’t you tell me who it is?” she retorted, in an impatient, fretful tone, not having the discernment to see that he wished to prepare her for what was coming. “Can’t you speak, Jan, if he won’t? People have no right to come, dressed up in other people’s clothes and faces, to frighten us to death. He ought to be transported! Who is it?”