Julia shed tears at his cruelty, called him cruel, wicked, false to his word. She wrote, but the letter did not please him, and his reply was scornful. At prayers morning and evening, it was pitiful to observe her glance of entreaty and her downfallen eyelashes. I guessed that in Heriot’s letters to her he wanted to make her confess something, which she would not do. ’Now I write to him no more; let him know it, my darling,’ she said, and the consequence of Heriot’s ungrateful obstinacy was that we all beheld her, at the ceremony of the consecration of the new church, place her hand on Mr. Boddy’s arm and allow him to lead her about. Heriot kept his eyes on them; his mouth was sharp, and his arms stiff by his sides. I was the bearer of a long letter to her that evening. She tore it to pieces without reading it. Next day Heriot walked slowly past Mr. Boddy holding the portrait in his hands. The usher called to him!
‘What have you there, Heriot?’
My hero stared. ‘Only a family portrait,’ he answered, thrusting it safe in his pocket and fixing his gaze on Julia’s window.
‘Permit me to look at it,’ said Mr. Boddy.
‘Permit me to decline to let you,’ said Heriot.
‘Look at me, sir,’ cried Boddy.
‘I prefer to look elsewhere, sir,’ replied Heriot, and there was Julia visible at her window.
‘I asked you, sir, civilly,’ quoth Boddy, ’for permission to look,—I used the word intentionally; I say I asked you for permission . . .’
‘No, you didn’t,’ Heriot retorted, quite cool; ’inferentially you did; but you did not use the word permission.’
‘And you turned upon me impudently,’ pursued Boddy, whose colour was thunder: ’you quibbled, sir; you prevaricated; you concealed what you were carrying . . .’
‘Am carrying,’ Heriot corrected his tense; ’and mean to, in spite of every Boddy,’ he murmured audibly.
‘Like a rascal detected in an act of felony,’ roared Boddy, ’you concealed it, sir . . .’
‘Conceal it, sir.’
’And I demand, in obedience to my duty, that you instantly exhibit it for my inspection, now, here, at once; no parleying; unbutton, or I call Mr. Rippenger to compel you.’
I was standing close by my brave Heriot, rather trembling, studious of his manfulness though I was. His left foot was firmly in advance, as he said, just in the manner to start an usher furious:
’I concealed it, I conceal it; I was carrying it, I carry it: you demand that I exhibit for your inspection what I mean no Boddy to see? I have to assure you respectfully, sir, that family portraits are sacred things with the sons of gentlemen. Here, Richie, off!’
I found the portrait in my hand, and Heriot between me and the usher, in the attitude of a fellow keeping another out of his home at prisoner’s-base. He had spied Mr. Rippenger’s head at the playground gate. I had just time to see Heriot and the usher in collision before I ran through the gate and into Julia’s arms in her garden, whither the dreadful prospect of an approaching catastrophe had attracted her.