Miss Carlyle did not believe a word. “What business?” asked she unceremoniously.
“It is nothing that could interest you. A trifling matter, relating to a little money. It’s nothing, indeed.”
“Then, if it’s nothing, why were you closeted so long with Archibald?”
“He was asking the particulars,” replied Barbara, recovering her equanimity.
Miss Carlyle sniffed, as she invariably did, when dissenting from a problem. She was sure there was some mystery astir. She turned and walked down the street with Barbara, but she was none the more likely to get anything out of her.
Mr. Carlyle returned to his room, deliberated a few moments, and then rang his bell. A clerk answered it.
“Go to the Buck’s Head. If Mr. Hare and the other magistrates are there, ask them to step over to me.”
The young man did as he was bid, and came back with the noted justices at his heels. They obeyed the summons with alacrity, for they believed they had got themselves into a judicial scrape, and that Mr. Carlyle alone could get them out of it.
“I will not request you to sit down,” began Mr. Carlyle, “for it is barely a moment I shall detain you. The more I think about this man’s having been put in prison, the less I like it; and I have been considering that you had better all five, come and smoke your pipes at my house this evening, when we shall have time to discuss what must be done. Come at seven, not later, and you will find my father’s old jar replenished with the best broadcut, and half a dozen churchwarden pipes. Shall it be so?”
The whole five accepted the invitation eagerly. And they were filing out when Mr. Carlyle laid his finger on the arm of Justice Hare.
“You will be sure to come, Hare,” he whispered. “We could not get on without you; all heads,” with a slight inclination towards those going out, “are not gifted with the clear good sense of yours.”
“Sure and certain,” responded the gratified justice; “fire and water shouldn’t keep me away.”
Soon after Mr. Carlyle was left alone another clerk entered.
“Miss Carlyle is asking to see you, sir, and Colonel Bethel’s come again.”
“Send in Miss Carlyle first,” was the answer. “What is it, Cornelia?”
“Ah! You may well ask what? Saying this morning that you could not dine at six, as usual, and then marching off, and never fixing the hour. How can I give my orders?”
“I thought business would have called me out, but I am not going now. We will dine a little earlier, though, Cornelia, say a quarter before six. I have invited—”
“What’s up, Archibald?” interrupted Miss Carlyle.
“Up! Nothing that I know of. I am very busy, Cornelia, and Colonel Bethel is waiting; I will talk to you at dinner-time. I have invited a party for to-night.”
“A party!” echoed Miss Carlyle.
“Four or five of the justices are coming in to smoke their pipes. You must put out your father’s leaden tobacco-box, and—”