“Your heroics are out of place,” he interrupted. “Go to the devil your own way, if you like.”
“You shall have an answer to-morrow—to-morrow! Give me time to think about it.”
The woman sank down on the couch again; her over-wrought nerves gave way, and burying her face in the cushions she sobbed hysterically. Nevill looked at her for a moment. Then he put a couple of sovereigns on the table and quietly left the room.
THE DINNER AT RICHMOND.
Three days later, at the unusually early hour of nine in the morning, Victor Nevill was enjoying his sponge bath. There appeared to be something of a pleasing nature on his mind, for as he dressed he smiled complacently at his own reflection in the glass. Having finished his toilet, he did not ring immediately for his breakfast. He sat down to his desk, and drew pen, ink and paper before him.
“My Dear Jack” he wrote, “will you dine with me at the Roebuck to-morrow night? Jimmie Drexell is coming, and I am going to drive him down. We will stop and pick you up on the way. An answer will oblige, if not too much trouble.”
He put the invitation in an envelope and addressed it. Then he pulled the bell-cord, and a boy shortly entered the room with a tray containing breakfast and a little heap of letters. Nevill glanced over his correspondence carelessly—they were mostly cards for receptions and tradesmen’s accounts—until he reached a letter bearing a foreign stamp. It was a long communication, and the reading of it caused him anything but satisfaction, to judge from the frown that gathered on his features.
“I wouldn’t have credited Sir Lucius with such weakness,” he muttered angrily. “What has possessed him?—and after all these years! He says his conscience troubles him! He fears he was too cruel and hard-hearted! Humph! it’s pleasant for me, I must say. Fancy him putting me on the scent—asking me to turn private detective! I suppose I’ll have to humor him, or pretend to. It will be the safest course. Can there be any truth in his theory, I wonder? No, I don’t think so. And after such a lapse of time the task would be next to impossible. I will be a fool if I let the thing worry me.”
Victor Nevill locked the offending letter in his desk, vowing that he would forget it. But that was easier said than done, and his gloomy countenance and preoccupied air showed how greatly he was disturbed. His breakfast was quite spoiled, and he barely tasted his coffee and rolls. With a savage oath he put on his hat, and went down into Jermyn street. He walked slowly in the direction of the Albany, where Jimmie Drexell had been fortunate enough to secure a couple of chambers.