“If you can catch him,” thought Jack. “I had better leave the painting with you for the present, Mr. Lamb,” he said. “It may be of some use in your search for the original.”
“Quite so,” assented the dealer. “I will gladly retain it for the present.”
“If that is all,” Jack continued, “I will wish you good afternoon.”
“One moment, Mr. Vernon,” said Sir Lucius, whose choleric indications had completely vanished. “I—I should like to have an interview with you, if you will consent to humor an old man. Your face interests me—I admire your work. I propose to remain in town for a brief time, though I am off to Oxford to-night, to visit an old friend, and will not be back until to-morrow afternoon. Would you find it convenient to give me a call to-morrow night at eight o’clock, at Morley’s Hotel?”
Jack was silent; his face expressed the surprise he felt.
“I should like you to come down to Sussex and do some landscapes of Priory Court,” Sir Lucius further explained.
“I am not working at present,” Jack said, curtly.
“But there is something else—a—a private matter,” Sir Lucius replied, confusedly. “I beg that you will oblige me, Mr. Vernon.”
“Very well, sir, since you wish it so much,” Jack consented. “I will come to Morley’s Hotel at eight to-morrow evening.”
“Thank you, Mr. Vernon.”
Jack shook hands with both gentlemen, picked up his hat and stick, and went off to an early dinner. Sir Lucius looked after him wistfully.
Sir Lucius Chesney remained for an hour to further discuss the affair of the two Rembrandts with Mr. Lamb, and the conversation became so interesting that he almost forgot that he had arranged to leave Paddington for Oxford at eight o’clock; when he suddenly remembered the fact he hurried off, fearful of losing his dinner, and St. Martin’s in the Fields indicated a quarter to seven as he entered Morley’s Hotel.
At that time a little party of three persons were sitting down to a table in one of the luxurious dining-rooms of the Trocadero. Victor Nevill was the host, and his guests were Stephen Foster and his daughter; later they were all going to see the production of a new musical comedy.
Madge, as lovely as a dream in her lustrous, shimmering evening gown, fell under the sway of the lights and the music, and was more like her old self than she had been for months; the papers had been kept out of her way, and she did not know that Jack had returned from India. Stephen Foster was absorbed in the menu and the wine-card, and Nevill, in the highest of spirits, laughed and chatted incessantly. He was ignorant of something that had occurred that very day, else his evening’s pleasure would surely have been spoiled.