They had been breakfasting together, one morning in the latter’s apartment, and were discussing numerous scenes and things at home and abroad in which they had both participated; nor was Arthur’s approaching marriage with Edith Effingham, and his idea of leaving the service, left uncommented upon by his old friend.
“Well,” remarked Draycott, with a gay, good natured laugh, “after your adventures and hair-breadth escapes, together with your great good luck in winning the beautiful heiress, it would not surprise me in the least if some old fairy godmother dropped from the clouds and transformed you into a gallant young Prince of some beautiful isle of the sea, yielding untold wealth, like the isle of the famous Count de Monte Cristo.” Here the conversation was interrupted by the entrance of the waiter, who handed Arthur a card, which announced that a Mr. A.G. Capias, of the firm of Docket & Capias, Solicitors, Bedford Row, desired to speak with him on business of a private character.
“More parchment and red tape work cut out for you to-day,” remarked the surgeon, “so I am off, but will drop in later in the day.”
“Now, my good fellow, oblige me by remaining where you are until this matter—be it what it may—is disposed of, and I will then stroll out with you,” said Carlton. Then, turning to the waiter, said, “Show the gentleman up at once.” The obsequious attendant bowed and withdrew.
In a few moments the door was thrown open, and a spruce, dapper looking gentleman, clothed in sombre colored garments, irreproachable linen, and carrying a small merino bag in his hand, was ushered in.
“I believe I have the pleasure of speaking to Captain Arthur Carlton of H.M. Light Dragoons,” said that individual, as he advanced towards the table, at which the two friends were seated.
“Late of the Light Dragoons,” replied Carlton, “for I have sold out—or, what amounts to the same thing, I have directed the Army Agent to do so”—pointing as he spoke to a vacant chair.
The man of law availing himself of this piece of politeness took the chair, placing his bag on the carpet at his feet.
“And what may be your pleasure or business with me? You may speak out,” said Carlton, noticing the glance that his visitor threw at the surgeon, “that gentleman is my most intimate friend and brother officer.”
“I have a few questions to ask concerning your father and grandfather, the answering of which may lead to something, I have no doubt, will, at no distant date, prove of much importance to you and yours,” was the reply.
“Proceed then,” said Arthur, “with your interrogations, and I will reply to the best of my ability, though I must candidly confess that I know very little of the early history of my father, and still less of my grandfather, for they both spent so many years abroad, in India and on the European Continent.”
Mr. Capias hereupon drew from his bag a small bundle of letters and papers and arranged them on the table in front of him, then commenced his enquiries as follows: