Sir Frederick, before handing it back, took Janice’s pencil from her dancing-card, and scribbled on the back of the quip:—
“The answer is plain, for
by means of her face,
The lady secured him an honourable place.
In return for the favour, by clergy and vow,
She made sure of her honour, but who knows when or Howe?”
And from that interchange of epigrams Janice asked no further questions relative to Mrs. Loring, unless it might be of herself.
At this ball Janice was gladdened by word from Andre that he had effected the sale of the miniature, though he maintained absolute silence as to who the purchaser was, nor did she choose to inquire. The next morning brought a packet from him containing a rouleau of guineas, and so soon as they were counted, the girl hurried to the room on the ground floor which the commissary had taken as a half office, and, after an apology for the unannounced intrusion, said,—
“You have been good enough, Lord Clowes, to favour us with sundry loans, for which we can never be grateful enough, but ’t is now in our power to repay them.”
“Pay me!” cried the baron, incredulously.
“Yes,” replied Janice, laying down the pile of gold on the desk. “Wilt tell me the exact amount?”
The guineas were too indisputable for Clowes to question the girl’s ability to carry out her intention, but he demanded, “How came you by such a sum of gold?”
“’T is—That concerns thee not,” replied the girl, with spirit.
“And does thy father know?”
“I ask you, Lord Clowes,” Janice responded, “to tell me the amount we owe you.”
For a moment the officer sat with a scowl on his face, then suddenly he threw it off, and with a hearty, friendly manner said: “Nay, Miss Meredith, think naught of it. You ’re welcome ten times over to the money, and what more ye shall ever need.” He rose as he spoke, and held out his hand toward the girl. “Generosity is not the monopoly of razorless youngsters of twenty.”
Janice, ignoring the hand, said: “Once again, Lord Clowes, I ask you to inform me of the amount of our debt, which if you will not tell me, you will force me to leave all the money.”
The angry frown returned to the commissary’s face, and all the reply he made was to touch a bell. “Tell Mr. Meredith I would have word with him in my office,” he said to the servant. Then he turned to Janice and remarked, “If ye insist on knowing the amount, ’t is as well that your father give it to ye, since clearly ye trust me in nothing.”
“Oh, Lord Clowes,” begged Janice, “wilt thou not let me pay this without calling in dadda? I—I acted without first speaking to him, and I fear me—” There her words were cut short by the entrance of the squire.
“I sent for ye, man, to help us unsnarl a coil. Your daughter insists on repaying the money I have loaned ye, and I thought it best ye should be witness to the transaction.” As he ended he pointed to the pile of coin.