“Come up here at once.”
Gustavus came, followed closely by Mrs. Fancy, who was in a state of abject confusion and alarm.
“Has Mr. Sagittarius returned here—the gentleman who dined to-night?” asked the Prophet.
Gustavus hesitated, thought of Dr. Carter’s library, and replied,—
“Has anybody entered the house?”
“You have been up the whole evening?”
“And nobody has been?”
“Grannie, you hear what Gustavus says.”
“But, Hennessey, he is here; I saw him.”
“By the door. I heard someone, and I thought it was you. I came to the door after calling you, and there he stood, all dirty and wet, with a huge hat on his head” (the saturnine little clergyman was largely blessed with brain), “and a most awful murderous expression on his face.”
The Prophet began to suspect that his dear relative, upset by the tragic events of the dinner table, had gone to sleep and had the nightmare.
“Grannie, it must have been a dream.”
“No, Hennessey, no.”
“It must indeed. I left Mr. Sagittarius at Zoological House. I feel certain of that.”
The Prophet spoke the honest truth. He fully believed that Mr. Sagittarius was at that very moment sharing in the triumph of his wife and receiving the worship of those who live the silly life.
“But I saw him, Hennessey,” said Mrs. Merillia, adding rather unnecessarily, “with my own eyes.”
“Grannie, darling, you must have been dreaming. At any rate, I’m here now. Nothing can hurt you. Go to bed. Fancy will stay with you, and I swear to you that no harm will happen to you so long as I am breathing.”
With these noble words the Prophet kissed his grandmother tenderly, assisted Mrs. Fancy into the room, and walked downstairs quite determined that, come what might, whether he broke a thousand oaths or not, he would put an end forthwith to the tyranny of the couple from the Mouse and abandon for ever the shocking pursuit of prophecy.
THE PROPHET RETIRES FROM BUSINESS
Exactly as the Prophet arrived at his resolution the hall door bell rang violently, and Gustavus, who had slipped down before the Prophet in order to seek the traveller to Java in the servants’ quarters, hurried into the hall in rather a distracted manner.
“Stop, Gustavus!” said the Prophet.
Gustavus stopped. The bell rang again.
“Gustavus,” said the Prophet, “if that is a visitor I am not at home. Mrs. Merillia is not at home either.”
It was by this time between one and two in the morning.
“Not at home, sir. Yes, sir.”
The Prophet concealed himself near the hat-rack, and Gustavus went softly to the door and opened it.