He looked at Ruth for a moment. Then he obeyed her. When he returned, Ruth was standing up, leaning upon Fenella’s arm. She held out her other hand to Arnold.
“You will help me down, please?” she begged.
It was a day of new emotions for Arnold. He was conscious suddenly of a fierce wave of jealousy, of despair. She was going, and notwithstanding the half pathetic, half appealing smile with which she held out her hands, she was happy to go! Fenella saw his expression and laughed in his face.
“Arnold looks at me as though I were a thief,” she declared, lightly, “and I have only come to claim my own. If you behave very nicely, Arnold, you can come and see us just as often as you please.”
It was all over in a few minutes. The automobile which had been standing in the street below was gone. Arnold was alone upon the sofa. The book which she had been reading, her handkerchief, a bowl of flowers which she had arranged, an odd glove, were lying on the table by his side. But Ruth had gone. The little room seemed cold and empty. He gripped the window-sill, and, sitting where they had sat together only a few minutes ago, he looked down at the curving lights. The old dreams surged up into his brain. The treasure ship had come indeed, the treasure ship for Ruth. Almost immediately the egotism of the man rebuked itself. If, indeed, she were passing into a new and happier life, should he not first, of every one, be thankful?—first of every one because within that hour he had learned the secret toward which he had been dimly struggling?
THE SHIPS COME IN
The accountant was preparing to take his leave. There had been an informal little meeting held in the dingy private office of Messrs. Samuel Weatherley & Company, at which he had presided.
“I really feel,” he said, as he drew on his gloves thoughtfully, “that I must repeat my congratulations to you, Mr. Jarvis, and to your young coadjutor here, Mr. Chetwode. The results which I have had the pleasure of laying before you are quite excellent. In fact, so far as I can remember, the firm has scarcely ever had a more prosperous half year.”
“Very kind of you, I am sure,” Mr. Jarvis declared, “and most satisfactory to us. We’ve worked hard, of course, but that doesn’t amount to much, after all. When you’ve been in a business, as I have in this one, for something like thirty-five years, the interest you take in it is such that you can’t help working. This I must say, though,” he went on, placing his hand on Arnold’s shoulder, “Mr. Chetwode is almost a newcomer here, and yet his energy has sometimes astounded me. Most remarkable and most creditable! For the last two months, Mr. Neville, he has scarcely slept in London for a single night. He has been to Bristol and Cardiff and Liverpool—all over the country, in fact—in the interests of the firm, with results that have sometimes astonished us.”