“But the action has been entered,” said Lady Hartledon.
“I beg your pardon, madam. Lord Hartledon is, I should imagine, the only man living who could suppose me capable of such a thing.”
“And you have not entered on it!” she reiterated, half bewildered by the denial.
“Most certainly not. When I parted with Lord Hartledon on a certain evening, which probably your ladyship remembers, I washed my hands of him for good, desiring never to approach him in any way whatever, never hear of him, never see him again. Your husband, madam, is safe for me: I desire nothing better than to forget that such a man is in existence.”
Lifting his hat, he walked away. And Lady Hartledon stood and gazed after him as one in a dream.
MR. CARR AT WORK.
Thomas Carr was threading his way through the mazy precincts of Gray’s Inn, with that quick step and absorbed manner known only, I think, to the busy man of our busy metropolis. He was on his way to make some inquiries of a firm of solicitors, Messrs. Kedge and Reck, strangers to him in all but name.
Up some dark and dingy stairs, he knocked at a dark and dingy door: which, after a minute, opened of itself by some ingenious contrivance, and let him into a passage, whence he turned into a room, where two clerks were writing at a desk.
“Can I see Mr. Kedge?”
“Not in,” said one of the clerks, without looking up.
“Mr. Reck, then?”
“When will either of them be in?” continued the barrister; thinking that if he were Messrs. Kedge and Reck the clerk would get his discharge for incivility.
“Can’t say. What’s your business?”
“My business is with them: not with you.”
“You can see the managing clerk.”
“I wish to see one of the partners.”
“Could you give your name?” continued the gentleman, equably.
Mr. Carr handed in his card. The clerk glanced at it, and surreptitiously showed it to his companion; and both of them looked up at him. Mr. Carr of the Temple was known by reputation, and they condescended to become civil.
“Take a seat for a moment, sir,” said the one. “I’ll inquire how long Mr. Kedge will be; but Mr. Reek’s not in town to-day.”
A few minutes, and Thomas Carr found himself in a small square room with the head of the firm, a youngish man and somewhat of a dandy, especially genial in manner, as though in contrast to his clerk. He welcomed the rising barrister.
“There’s as much difficulty in getting to see you as if you were Pope of Rome,” cried Mr. Carr, good humouredly.
The lawyer laughed. “Hopkins did not know you: and strangers are generally introduced to Mr. Reck, or to our managing clerk. What can I do for you, Mr. Carr?”