“Have you talked to my sister like that?” Gerald asked eagerly.
“I have and I will again,” Hamel declared. “To-morrow morning I leave this house, but before I go I mean to have the affair of this man Dunster cleared up. Your uncle will be very angry with me, without a doubt. I don’t care. But I do want you to trust me, if you will, and your sister. I should like to be your friend.”
“God knows we need one!” the boy said simply. “Good night!”
Once more the house was quiet. Hamel pushed his window wide open and looked out into the night. The air was absolutely still, there was no wind. The only sound was the falling of the low waves upon the stony beach and the faint scrunching of the pebbles drawn back by the ebb. He looked along the row of windows, all dark and silent now. A rush of pleasant fancies suddenly chased away the grim depression of the last few minutes. Out of all this sordidness and mystery there remained at least something in life for him to do. A certain aimlessness of purpose which had troubled him during the last few months had disappeared. He had found an object in life.
“To-day,” Hamel declared, as he stood at the sideboard the following morning at breakfast-time and helped himself to bacon and eggs, “I am positively going to begin reading. I have a case full of books down at the Tower which I haven’t unpacked yet.”
Esther made a little grimace.
“Look at the sunshine,” she said. “There isn’t a breath of wind, either. I think to-day that I could play from the men’s tees.”
Hamel sighed as he returned to his place.
“My good intentions are already half dissipated,” he admitted.
“How can we attack the other half?” she asked.
Gerald, who was also on his way to the sideboard, suddenly stopped.
“Hullo!” he exclaimed, looking out of the window. “Who’s going away this morning, I wonder? There’s the Rolls-Royce at the door.”
Hamel, too, rose once more to his feet. The two exchanged swift glances. Moved by a common thought, they both started for the door, only to find it suddenly opened before them. Mr. Fentolin glided into the room.
“Uncle!” Gerald exclaimed.
Mr. Fentolin glanced keenly around the room.
“Good morning, everybody,” he said. “My appearance at this hour of the morning naturally surprises you. As a matter of fact, I have been up for quite a long time. Esther dear, give me some coffee, will you, and be sure that it is hot. If any of you want to say good-by to Mr. John P. Dunster, you’d better hurry out.”
“You mean that he is going?” Hamel asked incredulously.