“You dog, of course you have. Your maternal grandfather was noted for his wine cellar, and he bought his Havanas by the thousand from Fribourg and Treyer. That I should prefer cheroots is rank degeneracy. But I must be off, or I shall get no sleep. I won’t ask you to come down to the dock in the morning—”
“But I insist upon coming, sir.”
“Then breakfast with me at Morley’s—nine o’clock sharp.”
Uncle and nephew parted on the best of terms, but Sir Lucius was not altogether easy in mind as he walked down Regent street, tapping the now deserted pavement with his stick.
“I hope the boy is trustworthy,” he thought. “He has some excuse for recklessness and extravagance, but none for dishonor. I told him the name of Chesney was unsullied—I forgot for a moment. It is strange that Mary should be so much in my mind lately. Poor girl! Perhaps I was too harsh with her. I wonder if she is still alive—if she has a son. But if she came to me this moment, I could not forgive her. Nearly thirty years have not softened me.”
He sighed heavily as he entered Trafalgar Square, and to a wretched woman with an infant in her arms, crouching under the shadow of the Nelson Column, he tossed a silver piece.
A LONDON SENSATION.
It had rained most of the afternoon, and then cleared off beautifully just before twilight. Strand-on-the-Green, ever changeful of mood, was this evening as fresh and sweet-smelling as a bit of the upper Thames—as picturesque as any waterside village a hundred miles from London.
By the grassy margin of the river, between Maynard’s boat-house and the elm trees, Jack Vernon strolled impatiently up and down. He was in low spirits, and the beauty of the evening was wasted on him. He had been here for fifteen minutes, and he told himself that he had been a fool to come at all, at such an hour. He waited a little longer, and then, as he was on the point of leaving, he heard light footsteps approaching, and recognized them with a lover’s keen perception. He hurried to meet the slim, girlish figure, with a light cloak fluttering from her shoulders, and Madge’s little cry of pleasure was stifled on her lips as he kissed them again and again.
“My darling!” he whispered eagerly. “I scarcely dared to hope that you would come to-night, but I could not stay away. Do you know that you have treated me cruelly? I have not seen you for two days—since Wednesday afternoon. And I have been here twice.”
“I am sorry, Jack, but I could not help it. I missed you ever so much.”
“Where is your father?”
“He is not at home—that is why I came. He is dining in town with an old friend, and won’t be back until the last train, at the very earliest.”
“I am indebted to him. I was hungry for a sight of you, dearest.”
“And I longed to see you, Jack. But I am afraid we shall not be able to meet as often as before.”