“Yes.” He looked up at the sun and then round the parkland stretching about the house. “Let me see; it’s over in that direction, isn’t it?” He pointed southwards. “Can we get to the village that way, or must we go by the road?”
“I’ll show you, my boy,” said Bill.
“Bill will show you. The park reaches almost as far as the village. Then I’ll send the car round in about half an hour.”
“Thanks very much.”
Cayley nodded and turned to go into the house. Antony took hold of Bill’s arm and walked off with him in the opposite direction.
Portrait of a Gentleman
They walked in silence for a little, until they had left the house and gardens well behind them. In front of them and to the right the park dipped and then rose slowly, shutting out the rest of the world. A thick belt of trees on the left divided them from the main road.
“Ever been here before?” said Antony suddenly.
“Oh, rather. Dozens of times.”
“I meant just here where we are now. Or do you stay indoors and play billiards all the time?”
“Oh Lord, no!”
“Well, tennis and things. So many people with beautiful parks never by any chance use them, and all the poor devils passing by on the dusty road think how lucky the owners are to have them, and imagine them doing all sorts of jolly things inside.” He pointed to the right. “Ever been over there?”
Bill laughed, as if a little ashamed.
“Well, not very much. I’ve often been along here, of course, because it’s the short way to the village.”
“Yes .... All right; now tell me something about Mark.”
“What sort of things?”
“Well, never mind about his being your host, or about your being a perfect gentleman, or anything like that. Cut out the Manners for Men, and tell me what you think of Mark, and how you like staying with him, and how many rows your little house-party has had this week, and how you get on with Cayley, and all the rest of it.”
Bill looked at him eagerly.
“I say, are you being the complete detective?”
“Well, I wanted a new profession,” smiled the other.
“What fun! I mean,” he corrected himself apologetically, “one oughtn’t to say that, when there’s a man dead in the house, and one’s host—” He broke off a little uncertainly, and then rounded off his period by saying again, “By Jove, what a rum show it is. Good Lord!”
“Well?” said Antony. “Carry on, Mark”
“What do I think of him?”
Bill was silent, wondering how to put into words thoughts which had never formed themselves very definitely in his own mind. What did he think of Mark? Seeing his hesitation, Antony said:
“I ought to have warned you that nothing that you say will be taken down by the reporters, so you needn’t bother about a split infinitive or two. Talk about anything you like, how you like. Well, I’ll give you a start. Which do you enjoy more a week-end here or at the Barrington’s, say?”