“It certainly appears to be simple enough,” said Stephen Foster, “but who will find out about—”
“You must do that,” Nevill interrupted. “If I went, it might lead to awkward complications in the future.”
“It’s the worst part, and I confess I don’t like it. But I’ll take a night to think it over, and give you an answer to-morrow. It’s an ugly undertaking—”
“But a safe one. If it comes off all right, I want L500 cash down, on account.”
“It is not certain that it will come off at all,” said Stephen Foster, as he rose. “Come in to-morrow afternoon. Oh, I believe I promised you some commission to-day.”
“Yes; sixty pounds.”
The check was written, and Nevill pocketed it with a nod. He put on his hat, moved to the door, and paused.
“By the by, there’s a new thing on at the Frivolity—awfully good,” he said. “Miss Foster might like to see it. We could make up a little party of three—”
“Thank you, but my daughter doesn’t care for theatres. And, as you know, I spend my evenings at home.”
“I don’t blame you,” Nevill replied, indifferently. “It’s a snug and jolly crib you have down there by the river. And the fresh air does a fellow a lot of good. I feel like a new man when I come back to town after dining with you. One gets tired of clubs and restaurants.”
“Come out when you like,” said Stephen Foster, in a voice that lacked warmth and sincerity.
“That’s kind of you,” Nevill replied. “Good-night!”
A minute later he was walking thoughtfully down Wardour street.
A visitor from Paris.
It was seven o’clock in the evening, ten days after Jack’s second encounter with Madge Foster, and a blaze of light shone from the big studio that overlooked Ravenscourt Park. The lord and master of it was writing business letters, a task in which he was assisted by frequent cigarettes. A tray containing whisky, brandy and siphons stood on a Moorish inlaid smoking stand, and suggested correctly that a visitor was expected. At noon Jack had received a letter from Victor Nevill, of whom he had seen nothing since their meeting at Strand-on-the-Green, to say that he was coming out at eight o’clock that night to have a chat over old times. Alphonse, being no longer required, had gone to his lodgings near by.
“It will be a bit awkward if Nevill wants his dinner,” Jack said to himself, in an interval of his letter writing. “I’ll keep him here a couple of hours, and then take him to dine in town. He’s a good fellow, and will understand. He’ll find things rather different from the Paris days.”