“That’s just the reason, my dear madam,” Mr. Sarrazin smartly replied. “I romp with my own children—why not with Kitty? Can I do anything for you in London?” he went on, getting a little nearer to the door; “I leave Edinburgh by the next train. And I promise you,” he added, with the spirit of mischief twinkling in his eyes, “this shall be my last confidential interview with your grandchild. When she wants to ask any more questions, I transfer her to you.”
Mrs. Presty looked after the retreating lawyer thoroughly mystified. What “confidential interview”? What “questions”? After some consideration, her experience of her granddaughter suggested that a little exercise of mercy might be attended with the right result. She looked at a cake on the sideboard. “I have only to forgive Kitty,” she decided, “and the child will talk about it of her own accord.”
Mr. Herbert Linley.
Of the friends and neighbors who had associated with Herbert Linley, in bygone days, not more than two or three kept up their intimacy with him at the later time of his disgrace. Those few, it is needless to say, were men.
One of the faithful companions, who had not shrunk from him yet, had just left the London hotel at which Linley had taken rooms for Sydney Westerfield and himself—in the name of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert. This old friend had been shocked by the change for the worse which he had perceived in the fugitive master of Mount Morven. Linley’s stout figure of former times had fallen away, as if he had suffered under long illness; his healthy color had faded; he made an effort to assume the hearty manner that had once been natural to him which was simply pitiable to see. “After sacrificing all that makes life truly decent and truly enjoyable for a woman, he has got nothing, not even false happiness, in return!” With that dreary conclusion the retiring visitor descended the hotel steps, and went his way along the street.
Linley returned to the newspaper which he had been reading when his friend was shown into the room.
Line by line he followed the progress of the law report, which informed its thousands of readers that his wife had divorced him, and had taken lawful possession of his child. Word by word, he dwelt with morbid attention on the terms of crushing severity in which the Lord President had spoken of Sydney Westerfield and of himself. Sentence by sentence he read the reproof inflicted on the unhappy woman whom he had vowed to love and cherish. And then—even then—urged by his own self-tormenting suspicion, he looked for more. On the opposite page there was a leading article, presenting comments on the trial, written in the tone of lofty and virtuous regret; taking the wife’s side against the judge, but declaring, at the same time, that no condemnation of the conduct of the husband and the governess could be too merciless, and no misery that might overtake them in the future more than they had deserved.