The Half-Hearted eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 273 pages of information about The Half-Hearted.

“That’s part of my point,” said the other.  “If I knew him less well than I do I should say he was the man cut out by Providence for the work.  He has been to the place, he knows the ropes of travelling, he is exceedingly well-informed, and he is uncommonly clever.  But he is badly off colour.  The thing might be the saving of him, or the ruin—­in which case, of course, he would also be the ruin of the thing.”

“As risky as that?” Beauregard asked.  “I have heard something of him, but I thought it merely his youth.  What’s wrong with him?”

“Oh, I can’t tell.  A thousand things, but all might be done away with by a single chance like this.  I tell you what I’ll do.  After to-night I can be spared for a couple of days.  I feel rather hipped myself, so I shall get up to the north and see my man.  I know the circumstances and I know Lewis.  If the two are likely to suit each other I have your authority to give him your message?”

“Certainly, my dear Wratislaw.  I have all the confidence in the world in your judgment.  You will be back the day after to-morrow?”

“I shall only be out of the House one night, and I think the game worth it.  I need not tell you that I am infernally anxious both about the business and my friend.  It is just on the cards that one might be the solution of the other.”

“You understand everything?”

“Everything.  I promise you I shall be exacting enough.  And now I had better be looking after my own work.”

Beauregard stared after him as he went out of the room and remained for a few minutes in deep thought.  Then he deliberately wrote out a foreign telegram form and rang the bell.

“I fancy I know the man,” he said to himself.  “He will go.  Meantime I can prepare things for his passage.”  The telegram was to the fugitive Gribton at Florence, asking him to meet a certain Mr. Haystoun at the Embassy in Paris within a week for the discussion of a particular question.

CHAPTER XVII

THE BRINK OF THE RUBICON

The next evening Wratislaw drove in a hired dogcart up Glenavelin from Gledsmuir just as a stormy autumn twilight was setting in over the bare fields.  A wild back-end had followed on the tracks of a marvellous summer.  Though it was still October the leaves lay heaped beneath the hedgerows, the bracken had yellowed to a dismal hue of decay, and the heather had turned from the purple of its flower to the grey-blue of its passing.  Rain had fallen, and the long road-side pools were fired by the westering sun.  Glenavelin looked crooked and fantastic in the falling shadows, and two miles farther the high lights of Etterick rose like a star in the bosom of the hills.  Seen after many weeks’ work in the bustle and confinement of town, the solitary, shadow-haunted world soothed and comforted.

He found Lewis in his room alone.  The place was quite dark for no lamp was lit, and only a merry fire showed the occupant.  He welcomed his friend with crazy vehemence, pushing him into a great armchair, offering a dozen varieties of refreshment, and leaving the butler aghast with contradictory messages about dinner.

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The Half-Hearted from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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