“By Jove, it is,” he affirmed. “Queer stick our host. Close as wax. I’ve known him ever since he dropped in for the title and estates, and I’ve never yet heard him open his mouth on the subject of his travels.”
“Was he away from England for very long?” Brooks asked.
“No one knows where he was,” Molyneux replied. “Twenty years ago he was reading for the Bar in London, and he suddenly disappeared. Well, I have never met a soul except Lacroix to-day who has seen anything of him in the interval between his disappearance and his coming to claim the estates. That means that for pretty well half a lifetime he passed completely out of the world. Poor beggar! I fancy that he was hard up, for one thing.” To Brooks the subject was fascinating, but he had an idea that it was scarcely the best of form to be discussing their late host with a man who was comparatively a stranger to him. So he remained silent, and Molyneux, with a yawn, abandoned the subject.
“Where does Rochester hang out, do you know?” he asked Brooks. “I don’t suppose for a moment I shall be able to find him.”
“His headquarters are at the Bell Hotel,” Brooks replied. “You will easily be able to come across him, for he has a series of ward meetings to-night. I am sorry that we are to be opponents.”
“We shan’t quarrel about that,” Molyneux answered. “Here we are, at Medchester, then. Better let him put you down, and then he can go on with me. You’re coming out to shoot at Enton, aren’t you?”
“Lord Arranmore was good enough to ask me,” Brooks answered, dubiously, “but I scarcely know whether I ought to accept. I am such a wretched shot.”
“Well, I couldn’t hit a haystack,” he said, “so you needn’t mind that. Besides, Arranmore isn’t keen about his bag, like some chaps. Are these your offices? See you again, then.”
Brooks found a dozen matters waiting for his attention. But before he settled down to work he wrote two letters. One was to the man who was doing his work as Secretary to the Unemployed Fund during the election, and with a brief mention of a large subscription, instructed him to open several relief stations which they had been obliged to chose a few days ago. And the other letter was to Victor Lacroix, whom he addressed at Westbury Park, Sir George Marson’s seat.
“I should be exceedingly obliged if you would accord me a few minutes’ interview on a purely personal matter. I will wait upon you anywhere, according to your convenience.
HENSLOW SPEAKS OUT