“Well, we’ll not disagree about him,” she declared. “I wonder how long my uncle means to be.”
“Shall I find out?” he asked.
“Would it be troubling you? He is so excited that I dare say he has forgotten all about me.”
Which was precisely what he had done. Brooks found him the centre of an animated little group, with a freshly-lit cigar in his mouth, and every appearance of having settled down to spend the night. He was almost annoyed when Brooks reminded him of his niece.
“God bless my soul, I forgot all about Mary,” he exclaimed with vexation. “She must go and sit somewhere. I shan’t be ready yet. Henslow wants us to go down to the Bell, and have a bit of supper.”
“In that case,” Brooks said, “you had better allow me to take Miss Scott home, and I will come then to you.”
“Capital, if you really don’t mind,” Mr. Bullsom declared. “Put her in a cab. Don’t let her be a bother to you.”
Brooks found her reluctant to take him away, but he pleaded a headache, and assured her that his work for the night was over. Outside he led her away from the centre of the town to a quiet walk heading to the suburb where she lived. Here the streets seemed strangely silent, and Brooks walked hat in hand, heedless of the rain which was still sprinkling. “Oh, this is good,” he murmured. “How one wearies of these crowds.”
“All the same,” she answered, smiling, “I think that your place just now is amongst them, and I shall not let you take me further than the top of the hill.”
Brooks looked down at her and laughed.
“What a very determined person you are,” he said. “I will take you to the top of the hill—and then we will see.”
A TEMPTING OFFER
The small boy brought in the card and laid it on Brooks’ desk with a flourish.
“He’s outside, sir—in Mr. Barton’s room. Shall I show him in?”
Brooks for a moment hesitated. He glanced at a letter which lay open upon the desk before him, and which he had read and re-read many times. The boy repeated his inquiry.
“Yes, of course,” he answered. “Show him in at once.”
Lord Arranmore, more than usually immaculate, strolled in, hat in hand, and carefully selecting the most comfortable chair, seated himself on the other side of the open table at which Brooks was working.
“How are you, Brooks?” he inquired, tersely. “Busy, of course. An aftermath of work, I suppose.”
“A few months ago,” Brooks answered, “I should have considered myself desperately busy. But after last week anything ordinary in the shape of work seems restful.”
Lord Arranmore nodded.
“I must congratulate you, I suppose,” he remarked. “You got your man in.”
“We got him in all right,” Brooks assented. “Our majority was less than we had hoped for, though.”