Gadgem stared. He did not believe a word about finding the money downstairs. He was accustomed to being put off that way and had already formulated his next tactical move. In fact he was about to name it with some positiveness, recounting the sort of papers which would follow and the celerity of their serving, when he suddenly became aware that St. George’s eyes were fixed upon him and instantly stopped breathing.
“I said good-morning, Mr. Gadgem,” repeated St. George sententiously. There was no mistaking his meaning.
“I heard you, sir,” hesitated the collector—“I heard you diSTINCTly, but in cases of this kind there is—”
St. George swung back the door and stood waiting. No man living or dead had ever doubted the word of St. George Wilmot Temple, not even by a tone of the voice, and Gadgem’s was certainly suggestive of a well-defined and most offensive doubt. Todd moved up closer; Dandy rose to his feet, thinking he might be of use. The little man looked from one to the other. He might add an action for assault and battery to the claim, but that would delay its collection.
“Then at twelve o’clock, to-morrow, Mr. Temple,” he purred blandly.
“At twelve o’clock!” repeated St. George coldly, wondering which end of the intruder he would grapple when he threw him through the front door and down the front steps.
“I will be here on the stroke of the clock, sir—on the stroke,” and Gadgem slunk out.
For some minutes St. George continued to walk up and down the room, stooping once in a while to caress the setter; dry-washing his hands; tapping his well-cut waistcoat with his shapely fingers, his thumbs in the arm-holes; halting now and then to stretch himself to the full height of his body. He had outwitted the colonel—taught him a lesson—let him see that he was not the only “hound in the pack,” and, best of all, he had saved the boy from annoyance and possibly from disgrace.
He was still striding up and down the room, when Harry, who had overslept himself as usual, came down to breakfast. Had some friend of his uncle found a gold mine in the back yard—or, better still, had Todd just discovered a forgotten row of old “Brahmin Madeira” in some dark corner of his cellar—St. George could not have been more buoyant.
“Glad you didn’t get up any earlier, you good-for-nothing sleepy-head!” he cried in welcoming, joyous tones. “You have just missed that ill-smelling buzzard.”
“What buzzard?” asked Harry, glancing over the letters on the mantel in the forlorn hope of finding one from Kate.
“Why, Gadgem—and that is the last you will ever see of him.”
“Why?—has father paid him?” he asked in a listless way, squeezing Dandy’s nose thrust affectionately into his hand—his mind still on Kate. Now that Willits was with her, as every one said, she would never write him again. He was a fool to expect it, he thought, and he sighed heavily.