The lawyer pointed with a persuasive smile to her empty chair. “If you allow yourself to be excited,” he said, “you will frighten me. Please—oh, please sit down again!”
Mrs. Linley felt the strong will, asserting itself in terms of courteous entreaty. She obeyed. Mrs. Presty had never admired the lawyer as she admired him now. “Is that how you manage your wife?” she asked.
Mr. Sarrazin was equal to the occasion, whatever it might be. “In your time, ma’am,” he said, “did you reveal the mysteries of conjugal life?” He turned to Mrs. Linley. “I have something to ask first,” he resumed, “and then you shall hear what I propose. How many people serve you in this cottage?”
“Three. Our landlady, who is housekeeper and cook. Our own maid. And the landlady’s daughter, who does the housework.”
“Any out-of-door servants?”
“Only the gardener.”
“Can you trust these people?”
“In what way, Mr. Sarrazin?”
“Can you trust them with a secret which only concerns yourself?”
“Certainly! The maid has been with us for years; no truer woman ever lived. The good old landlady often drinks tea with us. Her daughter is going to be married; and I have given the wedding-dress. As for the gardener, let Kitty settle the matter with him, and I answer for the rest. Why are you pointing to the window?”
“Look out, and tell me what you see.”
“I see the fog.”
“And I, Mrs. Linley, have seen the boathouse. While the spies are watching your gate, what do you say to crossing the lake, under cover of the fog?”
Mr. Randal Linley.
Winter had come and gone; spring was nearing its end, and London still suffered under the rigid regularity of easterly winds. Although in less than a week summer would begin with the first of June, Mr. Sarrazin was glad to find his office warmed by a fire, when he arrived to open the letters of the day.
The correspondence in general related exclusively to proceedings connected with the law. Two letters only presented an exception to the general rule. The first was addressed in Mrs. Linley’s handwriting, and bore the postmark of Hanover. Kitty’s mother had not only succeeded in getting to the safe side of the lake—she and her child had crossed the German Ocean as well. In one respect her letter was a remarkable composition. Although it was written by a lady, it was short enough to be read in less than a minute:
“MY DEAR MR. SARRAZIN—I have just time to write by this evening’s post. Our excellent courier has satisfied himself that the danger of discovery has passed away. The wretches have been so completely deceived that they are already on their way back to England, to lie in wait for us at Folkestone and Dover. To-morrow morning we leave this charming place—oh, how unwillingly!—for Bremen, to catch the steamer to Hull. You shall hear from me again on our arrival. Gratefully yours,