“Certainly. Now we are neither of us nice, but we’re both of us human.”
“There were some letters for you,” said the Prophet.
Lady Enid wrinkled her smooth, young, healthy-looking forehead.
“How stupid of me! I’ll fetch them to-morrow. Well?”
She looked at the Prophet with obvious expectation.
“I’m so sorry I can’t tell you,” he replied with gentle firmness.
“Oh, all right,” she rejoined. “But now I’m at a disadvantage. You know I’m Miss Minerva.”
“Yes. But I don’t know why you are, or why you go to Jellybrand’s, or why you rushed into the parlour, or who the old gentleman was that—”
The cab stopped before Mrs. Merillia’s house.
In the hall, upon an oaken bench, they perceived a very broad-brimmed top hat standing on its head. Beside it lay two pieces of a stout and knobbly walking stick which had been broken in half. Lady Enid started violently.
“Good Heavens!” she cried.
She picked up the walking stick, examined it, and laid it down.
“I don’t think I want any tea,” she murmured.
“I’m sure you do,” said the Prophet, with some pressure.
She stood still for a moment. Then, catching the attentive round eye of Gustavus, who was waiting by the hall door, she shrugged her shoulders and walked towards the staircase.
“It’s very hard lines,” she murmured as she began to ascend: “all the questions you wanted to ask are being answered. You know I’m Miss Minerva already. In another minute you’ll know who the old gentleman was that—”
The Prophet could tell from the expression of her straight, slightly Scottish, back that she was pouting as she entered the drawing-room where Mrs. Merillia was having tea with—somebody.
THE OLD ASTRONOMER DISCOURSETH OF THE STARS
Never before had the Prophet felt so alive with curiosity as he did when he followed Lady Enid into Mrs. Merillia’s presence, for he knew that he was about to see the venerable victim of the young librarian’s indignant chivalry, the “old gent” who had come to intimate terms with Jellybrand’s bookcase, and who had kicked and knocked at least a pint of paint off Jellybrand’s door. His eyes were large and staring as he glanced swiftly from his grandmother’s sofa to the huge telescope, under whose very shadow was seated no less a personage than Sir Tiglath Butt, holding a cup of tea on one hand and a large-sized muffin in the other.
No wonder the Prophet jumped. No wonder Mrs. Merillia cried out, in her pretty, clear voice,—
“Take care of Beau, Hennessey! You’re treading on him.”
The dachshund’s pathetic shriek of outrage made the rafters ring. Mrs. Merillia put her mittens to her ears, and Sir Tiglath dropped his muffin into a jar of pot-pourri.
“I beg your pardon,” said the Prophet, earnestly. “Sir Tiglath—this is indeed a sur—a pleasure.”