‘Ay, ay, Captain Welsh,’ said Temple, ’we have pulled you through, only another time mind you keep an eye on that look-out man of yours. Some of your men, I suspect, see double with an easy conscience. A close net makes slippery eels.’
‘Have you anything to say against my men?’ the captain inquired.
Temple replied that he would talk to him about it presently, and laughed as he drew me away.
’His men will get him into a deuce of a scrape some day, Richie. I shall put him on his guard. Have you had all my letters? You look made of iron. I’m beginning capitally, not afraid of the Court a bit, and I hope I’m not pert. I wish your father had taken it better!’
‘Taken what?’ said I.
‘Haven’t you heard from him?’
‘Two or three times: a mass of interjections.’
’You know he brought his Case forward at last? Of course it went as we all knew it would.’
‘Where is he? Have you seen Janet lately?’
‘He is at Miss Ilchester’s house in London.’
‘Write the address on a card.’
Temple wrote it rather hesitatingly, I thought.
We talked of seeing one another in the evening, and I sprang off to Janet’s residence, forgetting to grasp my old friend’s hand at parting. I was madly anxious to thank her for the unexpected tenderness to my father. And now nothing stood between us!
My aunt Dorothy was the first to welcome me. ’He must be prepared for the sight of you, Harry. The doctors say that a shock may destroy him. Janet treats him so wonderfully.’
I pressed her on my heart and cheered her, praising Janet. She wept.
‘Is there anything new the matter?’ I said.
’It ‘s not new to us, Harry. I’m sure you’re brave?’
‘Brave! what am I asked to bear?’
‘Much, if you love her, Harry!’
’It is better you should hear it from me, Harry. I wrote you word of it. We all imagined it would not be disagreeable to you. Who could foresee this change in you? She least of all!’
‘She’s in love with some one?’
‘I did not say in love.’
‘Tell me the worst.’
‘She is engaged to be married.’
Janet came into the room—another Janet for me. She had engaged herself to marry the Marquis of Edbury. At the moment when she enslaved me with gratitude and admiration she was lost to me. I knew her too well to see a chance of her breaking her pledged word.
My old grandfather said of Janet, ‘She’s a compassionate thing.’ I felt now the tears under his speech, and how late I was in getting wisdom. Compassion for Edbury in Janet’s bosom was the matchmaker’s chief engine of assault, my aunt Dorothy told me. Lady Ilchester had been for this suitor, Sir Roderick for the other, up to the verge of a quarrel between the most united of wedding couples. Janet was persecuted. She heard that Edbury’s life was running to waste; she liked him for his cricketing and hunting, his frankness, seeming manliness, and general native English enthusiasm. I permitted myself to comprehend the case as far as I could allow myself to excuse her.