The hand of fate.
At the first stroke of noon next day, Arnold arrived at his cousin’s house in Chester Square. He was accompanied by Iris, by Lala Roy, and by Mr. Frank Farrar.
“Pray, Arnold, what is meant by all this mystery?” asked Clara, receiving him and his party with considerable surprise.
“I will explain all in a few minutes, my dear Clara. Meanwhile, have you done what you promised?”
“Yes, I wrote to Dr. Washington. He will be here, I expect, in a few minutes.”
“You wrote exactly in the form of words you promised me?”
“Yes, exactly. I asked him to meet me here this morning at a quarter past twelve, in order to discuss a few points connected with Iris’s future arrangements, before he left for America, and I wrote on the envelope, ‘Immediate and important.’”
“Very well. He will be sure to come, I think. Perhaps your cousin will insist upon another check for fifty pounds being given to him.”
“Arnold, you are extremely suspicious and most ungenerous about Dr. Washington, on whose truth and disinterested honesty I thoroughly rely.”
“We shall see. Meanwhile, Clara, I desire to present to you a young lady of whom we have already spoken. This is Miss Aglen, who is, I need hardly say, deeply anxious to win your good opinion. And this is Lala Roy, an Indian gentleman who knew her father, and has lived in the same house with her for twenty years. Our debt—I shall soon be able to say your debt—of gratitude to this gentleman for his long kindness to Miss Aglen—is one which can never be repaid.”
Clara gave the most frigid bow to both Iris and Lala Roy.
“Really, Arnold, you are talking in enigmas this morning. What am I to understand? What has this gentleman to do with my appointment with Dr. Washington?”
“My dear cousin, I am so happy this morning that I wonder I do not talk in conundrums, or rondeaux, or terza rima. It is a mere chance, I assure you. Perhaps I may break out in rhymes presently. This evening we will have fireworks in the square, roast a whole ox, invite the neighbors, and dance about a maypole. You shall lead off the dance, Clara.”
“Pray go on, Arnold. All this is very inexplicable.”
“This gentleman, however, is a very old friend of yours, Clara. Do you not recognize Mr. Frank Farrar, who used to stay at the Hall in the old days?
“I remember Mr. Farrar very well.” Clara gave him her hand. “But I should not have known him. Why have we never met in society during all these years, Mr. Farrar?”
“I suppose because I have been out of society, Miss Holland,” said the scholar. “When a man marries, and has a large family, and a small income, and grows old, and has to see the young fellows shoving him out at every point, he doesn’t care much about society. I hope you are well and happy.”