After the usual pleasantries had passed, Sir Thomas commenced by way of explanation:
“Your ladyship will pardon this detention, from the fact of my being absent when your note arrived. Business demanding my presence at the admiralty office I was unavoidably detained for some days. On arriving yesterday I immediately telegraphed the fact to Lord Bereford, but hope that the present misfortune will not seriously interfere with any of your ladyship’s plans.”
Assuming an air of much importance, her ladyship began; “When I addressed you, it was merely in the form of a note, not wishing to convey a subject of such importance to paper, deeming that it demanded your personal attention. I fully exonerate you by the ready response as shown at this instance.”
This remark Sir Thomas politely acknowledged with a deep bow, while a shade of uneasiness was visible upon his features.
With another assuming air to gain, if possible, a more wise and legal manner, her ladyship thus resumed: “Sir Thomas, you must certainly be aware of my motives in thus requesting an interview. You cannot be insensible to the fact that it entirely concerns the Lady Rosamond.”
Here Sir Thomas became somewhat agitated, but her ladyship continued: “Strictly speaking, it concerns both families, as how can it apply to the former without a direct application to Gerald Bereford, in which case is involved that of his connexions.”
Sir Thomas felt the necessity of waiving those points of nicety, but knowing too well that any interference would entail a more definite investigation, listened with utmost composure in the hope of instant relief.
With the stem gravity of a learned judge, ready to pronounce sentence upon the culprit arraigned, her ladyship in graver tone continued: “I cannot but admit that the matter has given me very great annoyance. I again refer to Lady Rosamond.”
The affair, at each mention of the latter, assumed a graver importance, while Sir Thomas inwardly struggled to maintain a studied demeanor as becoming the grave occasion.