“I am very well, and I ought to be happy, because I have recovered Claude’s lost heiress, my cousin, Iris Deseret, and she is the best and most delightful of girls, with the warmest heart and the sweetest instincts of a lady by descent and birth.”
She looked severely at Arnold, who said nothing, but smiled incredulously.
Mr. Farrar looked from Iris to Miss Holland, bewildered.
“And why do you come to see me to-day, Mr. Farrar—and with Arnold?”
“Because I have undertaken to answer one question presently, which Mr. Arbuthnot is to ask me. That is why I am here. Not but what it gives me the greatest pleasure to see you again, Miss Holland, after so many years.”
“Our poor Claude died in America, you know, Mr. Farrar.”
“So I have recently heard.”
“And left one daughter.”
“That also I have learned.” He looked at Iris.
“She is with me, here in this house, and has
been with me for a week.
You may understand, Mr. Farrar, the happiness I feel in having with me
Claude’s only daughter.”
Mr. Farrar looked from her to Arnold with increasing amazement. But he said nothing.
“I have appointed this morning, at Arnold’s request,” Clara went on, “to have an interview, perhaps the last, with the gentleman who brought my dear Iris from America. I say, at Arnold’s request, because he asked me to do this, and I have always trusted him implicitly, and I hope he is not going to bring trouble upon us now, although I do not, I confess, understand the presence of his friends or their connection with my cousin.”
“My dear Clara,” said Arnold again, “I ask for nothing but patience. And that only for a few moments. As for the papers, you have them all in your possession?”
“Yes; they are locked up in my strong-box.”
“Do not, on any account, give them to anybody. However, after this morning you will not be asked. Have you taken as yet any steps at all for the transference of your property to—to the rightful heir?”
“Thank goodness! And now, Clara, I will ask you, as soon as Dr. Washington and—your cousin—are in the drawing-room, to ring the bell. You need not explain why. We will answer the summons, and we will give all the explanations that may be required.”
“I will not have my cousin vexed, Arnold.”
“You shall not. Your cousin shall never be vexed by me as long as I live.”
“And Dr. Washington must not be in any way offended. Consider the feelings of an American gentleman, Arnold. He is my guest.”
“You may thoroughly rely upon my consideration for the feelings of an American gentleman. Go; there is a knock at the door. Go to receive him, and, when both are in the room, ring the bell.”