Done, in the name of Morality. Done, in the interests of Virtue. Done, in an age of progress, and under the most perfect government on the face of the earth.
THE LAST CHANCE.
“HIS lordship is dangerously ill, Sir. Her ladyship can receive no visitors.”
“Be so good as to take that card to Lady Holchester. It is absolutely necessary that your mistress should be made acquainted—in the interests of her younger son—with something which I can only mention to her ladyship herself.”
The two persons speaking were Lord Holchester’s head servant and Sir Patrick Lundie. At that time barely half an hour had passed since the close of the proceedings at Portland Place.
The servant still hesitated with the card in his hand. “I shall forfeit my situation,” he said, “if I do it.”
“You will most assuredly forfeit your situation if you don’t do it,” returned Sir Patrick. “I warn you plainly, this is too serious a matter to be trifled with.”
The tone in which those words were spoken had its effect. The man went up stairs with his message.
Sir Patrick waited in the hall. Even the momentary delay of entering one of the reception-rooms was more than he could endure at that moment. Anne’s happiness was hopelessly sacrificed already. The preservation of her personal safety—which Sir Patrick firmly believed to be in danger—was the one service which it was possible to render to her now. The perilous position in which she stood toward her husband—as an immovable obstacle, while she lived, between Geoffrey and Mrs. Glenarm—was beyond the reach of remedy. But it was still possible to prevent her from becoming the innocent cause of Geoffrey’s pecuniary ruin, by standing in the way of a reconciliation between father and son.
Resolute to leave no means untried of serving Anne’s interests, Sir Patrick had allowed Arnold and Blanche to go to his own residence in London, alone, and had not even waited to say a farewell word to any of the persons who had taken part in the inquiry. “Her life may depend on what I can do for her at Holchester House!” With that conviction in him, he had left Portland Place. With that conviction in him, he had sent his message to Lady Holchester, and was now waiting for the reply.
The servant appeared again on the stairs. Sir Patrick went up to meet him.
“Her ladyship will see you, Sir, for a few minutes.”
The door of an upper room was opened; and Sir Patrick found himself in the presence of Geoffrey’s mother. There was only time to observe that she possessed the remains of rare personal beauty, and that she received her visitor with a grace and courtesy which implied (under the circumstances) a considerate regard for his position at the expense of her own.