“It’s not so easy to tell you what I want,” he said, “after the tone you have taken with me about my wife.”
Mr. Kendrew looked surprised.
“Is Mrs. Vanborough concerned in the matter?” he asked.
“Does she know about it?”
“Have you kept the thing a secret out of regard for her?”
“Have I any right to advise on it?”
“You have the right of an old friend.”
“Then, why not tell me frankly what it is?”
There was another moment of embarrassment on Mr. Vanborough’s part.
“It will come better,” he answered, “from a third person, whom I expect here every minute. He is in possession of all the facts—and he is better able to state them than I am.”
“Who is the person?”
“My friend, Delamayn.”
“Yes—the junior partner in the firm of Delamayn, Hawke, and Delamayn. Do you know him?”
“I am acquainted with him. His wife’s family were friends of mine before he married. I don’t like him.”
“You’re rather hard to please to-day! Delamayn is a rising man, if ever there was one yet. A man with a career before him, and with courage enough to pursue it. He is going to leave the Firm, and try his luck at the Bar. Every body says he will do great things. What’s your objection to him?”
“I have no objection whatever. We meet with people occasionally whom we dislike without knowing why. Without knowing why, I dislike Mr. Delamayn.”
“Whatever you do you must put up with him this evening. He will be here directly.”
He was there at that moment. The servant opened the door, and announced—“Mr. Delamayn.”
Externally speaking, the rising solicitor, who was going to try his luck at the Bar, looked like a man who was going to succeed. His hard, hairless face, his watchful gray eyes, his thin, resolute lips, said plainly, in so many words, “I mean to get on in the world; and, if you are in my way, I mean to get on at your expense.” Mr. Delamayn was habitually polite to every body—but he had never been known to say one unnecessary word to his dearest friend. A man of rare ability; a man of unblemished honor (as the code of the world goes); but not a man to be taken familiarly by the hand. You would never have borrowed money of him—but you would have trusted him with untold gold. Involved in private and personal troubles, you would have hesitated at asking him to help you. Involved in public and producible troubles, you would have said, Here is my man. Sure to push his way—nobody could look at him and doubt it—sure to push his way.
“Kendrew is an old friend of mine,” said Mr. Vanborough, addressing himself to the lawyer. “Whatever you have to say to me you may say before him. Will you have some wine?”