Taking up a book which lay open beside the seat hitherto occupied by Lady Rosamond, Captain Douglas commenced to read some lines from Tennyson, when accosted by his companion, Mr. Howe:
“You seem to be taking things very cool, old fellow. Where are the ladies?”
“They are getting ready; come in while we are waiting.”
“This is your fault again, Douglas. It is past the hour, and a large party awaits us,” said Mr. Howe impatiently.
“Better late than never,” vociferated Captain Douglas, as he went out singing, quickly returning with Mary Douglas and Lady Rosamond.
“It is all Charles’ fault,” said the former, by way of explanation.
“Ha, ha, ha,” laughed Captain Douglas, “I knew this was coming, but I must be as jolly as I can.”
“Your ladyship is under my protection,” said the incorrigible delinquent, offering his arm to Lady Rosamond, while Mary Douglas was assigned to the companionship of the private secretary.
“This is indeed a merry party,” said Lady Rosamond to her gallant, as he placed her beside him and wrapped the daintily lined robes around her.
“I am half inclined to be angry with Trevelyan,” said Mr. Howe, turning around in his seat and facing Captain Douglas.
“What are your grounds?” questioned the latter.
“Enough to justify my declaration,” said the former, apparently looking at Captain Douglas, but in reality casting sidelong glances at Lady Rosamond.
What did he seek there? Did jealousy cause that stolen glance? What was the motive? These important questions certainly deserve some attention, which, in justice to Mr. Howe and the parties concerned, and last, but not least, the reader, this concession must be granted.
As admitted, the private secretary of Sir Howard Douglas entertained a warm friendship towards Lieutenant Trevelyan, treating him with the tenderness of a younger brother. Being constantly thrown in the society of each other, there was much to be learned on both sides. That the young lieutenant returned this friendship he took no pains to conceal, knowing that in Mr. Howe he had an interested friend and adviser. For some time in the past the keen eye of the former detected a sudden strange and half concealed manner possessing his young friend, which completely puzzled him: Various conjectures presented themselves, but all unsatisfactory and vague. Still further watch was kept upon the actions of Guy Trevelyan, but nothing appeared to solve the difficult problem. An opportunity at last rewarded this perseverance. As explained in a preceding chapter, one side of mysterious question was solved without any effort or seeking the on the part of any one. By a mere accident Mr. Howe learned the cause which had so deeply influenced the course of Guy Trevelyan’s actions, and, furthermore, his feelings. Here was something gained: did it bode good or evil to the young lieutenant?