A native servant entered, more noiseless and more dignified than any English footman, and announced another visitor. Lewis lifted his head, and saw the lady rise, smiling, to greet a tall man who had come in with the frankness of a privileged acquaintance. “How do you do, Mr. Marker?” he heard. “I am so glad to see you. We didn’t dare to expect you till to-morrow. May I introduce two English friends, Mr. Haystoun and Mr. Winterham?”
And so the meeting came about in the simplest way. Lewis found himself shaking hands cordially with a man who stood upright, quite in the English fashion, and smiled genially on the two strangers. Then he took the vacant chair by Mrs. Logan, and answered the lady’s questions with the ease and kindliness of one who knows and likes his fellow-creatures. He deplored Logan’s absence, grew enthusiastic about the dance, and produced from a pocket certain sweetmeats, not made in Kashmir, for the two children. Then he turned to George and asked pleasantly about the journey. How did they find the roads from Gilgit? He hoped they would get good sport, and if he could be of any service, would they command him? He had heard of Lewis’s former visit, and, of course, he had read his book. The most striking book of travel he had seen for long. Of course he didn’t agree with certain things, but each man for his own view; and he should like to talk over the matter with Mr. Haystoun. Were they staying long? At Galetti’s of course? By good luck that was also his headquarters. And so he talked pleasingly, in the style of a lady’s drawing-room, while Lewis, his mind consumed with interest, sat puzzling out the discords in his face.
“Do you know, Mr. Marker, we were talking about you before you came in. I was telling Mr. Haystoun that I thought you were half Scotch. Mr. Haystoun, you know, lives in Scotland.”
“Do you really? Then I am a thousand times delighted to meet you, for I have many connections with Scotland. My grandmother was a Scotswoman, and though I have never been in your beautiful land, yet I have known many of your people. And, indeed, I have heard of one of your name who was a friend of my father’s—a certain Mr. Haystoun of Etterick.”
“My father,” said Lewis.
“Ah, I am so pleased to hear. My father and he met often in Paris, when they were attached to their different embassies. My father was in the German service.”
“Your mother was Russian, was she not?” Lewis asked tactlessly, impelled by he knew not what motive.
“Ah, how did you know?” Mr. Marker smiled in reply, with the slightest raising of the eyebrows. “I have indeed the blood of many nationalities in my veins. Would that I were equally familiar with all nations, for I know less of Russia than I know of Scotland. We in Germany are their near neighbours, and love them, as you do here, something less than ourselves.”
He talked English with that pleasing sincerity which seems inseparable from the speech of foreigners, who use a purer and more formal idiom than ourselves. George looked anxiously towards Lewis, with a question in his eyes, but finding his companion abstracted, he spoke himself.