‘What do you say?’ asked Merton, but Logan went on hooting.
‘I say,’ he repeated, ’it must never be known that the old lord came to consult us,’ and here he was again convulsed.
‘Of course not,’ said Merton. ‘But where is the joke?’
’Why, don’t you see—oh, it is too good—he has taken every kind of precaution to establish his sanity when he made his will.’
‘He told me that he had got expert evidence,’ said Merton.
‘And then he comes and consults US!’ said Logan, with a crow of laughter. ’If any fellow wants to break the will on the score of insanity, and knows, knows he came to us, a jury, when they find he consulted us, will jolly well upset the cart.’ Merton was hurt.
‘Logan,’ he said, ’it is you who ought to be in an asylum, an Asylum for Incurable Children. Don’t you see that he made the will long before he took the very natural and proper step of consulting Messrs. Gray and Graham?’
’Let us pray that, if there is a suit, it won’t come before a Scotch jury,’ said Logan. ’Anyhow, nobody knows that he came except you and me.’
‘And the office boy,’ said Merton.
‘Oh, we’ll square the office boy,’ said Logan. ‘Let’s lunch!’
They lunched, and Logan, as was natural, though Merton urged him to abstain, hung about the doors of Madame Claudine’s emporium at the hour when the young ladies returned to their homes. He walked home with Miss Markham. He told her about his chances, and his views, and no doubt she did not think him a person of schoolboy ideas, but a Bayard.
Two days passed, and in the afternoon of the third a telegram arrived for Logan from Kirkburn.
‘Come at once, Marquis very ill. Dr. Douglas, Kirkburn.’
There was no express train North till 8.45 in the evening. Merton dined with Logan at King’s Cross, and saw him off. He would reach his cousin’s house at about six in the morning if the train kept time.
About nine o’clock on the morning following Logan’s arrival at Kirkburn Merton was awakened: the servant handed to him a telegram.
‘Come instantly. Highly important. Logan, Kirkburn.’
Merton dressed himself more rapidly than he had ever done, and caught the train leaving King’s Cross at 10 a.m.
II. The Emu’s Feathers
The landscape through which Merton passed on his northward way to Kirkburn, whither Logan had summoned him, was blank with snow. The snow was not more than a couple of inches deep where it had not drifted, and, as frost had set in, it was not likely to deepen. There was no fear of being snowed up.