Try to Excuse Her.
The weather had been unusually warm. Of all oppressive summers a hot summer in London is the hardest to endure. The little exercise that Sydney could take was, as Randal knew, deferred until the evening. On asking for her, he was surprised to hear that she had gone out.
“Is she walking?” he asked, “on a day such as this?”
No: she was too much overcome by the heat to be able to walk. The landlady’s boy had been sent to fetch a cab, and he had heard Miss Westerfield tell the driver to go to Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
The address at once reminded Randal of Mr. Sarrazin. On the chance of making a discovery, he went to the lawyer’s office. It had struck him as being just possible that Sydney might have called there for the second time; and, on making inquiry, he found that his surmise was correct. Miss Westerfield had called, and had gone away again more than an hour since.
Having mentioned this circumstance, good Mr. Sarrazin rather abruptly changed the subject.
He began to talk of the weather, and, like everybody else, he complained of the heat. Receiving no encouragement so far, he selected politics as his next topic. Randal was unapproachably indifferent to the state of parties, and the urgent necessity for reform. Still bent, as it seemed, on preventing his visitor from taking a leading part in the conversation, Mr. Sarrazin tried the exercise of hospitality next. He opened his cigar-case, and entered eagerly into the merits of his cigars; he proposed a cool drink, and described the right method of making it as distinguished from the wrong. Randal was not thirsty, and was not inclined to smoke. Would the pertinacious lawyer give way at last? In appearance, at least, he submitted to defeat. “You want something of me, my friend,” he said, with a patient smile. “What is it?”
“I want to know why Miss Westerfield called on you?”
Randal flattered himself that he had made a prevaricating reply simply impossible. Nothing of the sort! Mr. Sarrazin slipped through his fingers once more. The unwritten laws of gallantry afforded him a refuge now.
“The most inviolate respect,” he solemnly declared, “is due to a lady’s confidence—and, what is more, to a young lady’s confidence—and, what is more yet, to a pretty young lady’s confidence. The sex, my dear fellow! Must I recall your attention to what is due to the sex?”
This little outbreak of the foreign side of his friend’s character was no novelty to Randal. He remained as indifferent to the inviolate claims of the sex as if he had been an old man of ninety.
“Did Miss Westerfield say anything about me?” was his next question.
Slippery Mr. Sarrazin slid into another refuge: he entered a protest.
“Here is a change of persons and places!” he exclaimed. “Am I a witness of the court of justice—and are you the lawyer who examines me? My memory is defective, my learned friend. Non mi ricordo. I know nothing about it.”