“Nay, Timothy, that remark is hardly fair; you know that the subject is ever in my thoughts.”
“In your thoughts, I grant, very frequently; but you have still been led away from the search.”
“I grant it, but I presume that arises from not knowing how to proceed. I have a skein to unravel, and cannot find out an end to commence with.”
“I always thought people commenced with the beginning,” replied Tim, laughing.
“At all events, I will now try back, and face the old lawyer. Do you call at Coleman Street, Tim, and at St Bridget’s also, if you please.”
“As for St Bridget’s, I’m in no particular hurry about my mother; if I stumble upon her I may pick her up, but I never make diligent search after what, in every probability, will not be worth the finding.”
Leaving Timothy to go his way, I walked to the house at Lincoln’s Inn, which I had before entered upon the memorable occasion of the papers of Estcourt. As before, I rang the bell, the door swang open, and I was once more in the presence of Mr Masterton.
“I have a letter, sir,” said I, bowing, and presenting the letter from Lord Windermear.
The old gentleman peered at me through his spectacles. “Why! we have met before—bless me—why you’re the rogue that—”
“You are perfectly right, sir,” interrupted I. “I am the rogue who presented the letter from Lord Windermear, and who presents you with another from the same person; do me the favour to read it, while I take a chair.”
“Upon my soul—you impudent—handsome dog, I must say—great pity—come for money, I suppose. Well, it’s a sad world,” muttered the lawyer as he broke open the letter of Lord Windermear.
I made no reply, but watched his countenance, which changed to that of an expression of surprise. “Had his lordship sent me a request to have you hanged if possible,” said Mr Masterton, “I should have felt no surprise, but in this letter he praises you, and desires me to render you all the service in my power. I can’t understand it.”
“No, sir; but if you have leisure to listen to me, you will then find that, in this world, we may be deceived by appearances.”
“Well, and so I was, when I first saw you; I never could have believed you to be—but never mind.”
“Perhaps, sir, in an hour or two you will again alter your opinion. Are you at leisure, or will you make an appointment for some future day?”
“Mr Newland, I am not at leisure—I never was more busy; and if you had come on any legal business, I should have put you off for three or four days, at least; but my curiosity is so raised, that I am determined that I will indulge it at the expense of my interest. I will turn the key, and then you will oblige me by unravelling, what, at present, is to me as curious as it is wholly incomprehensible.”