“You are rather a dear,” he said. “I would not do anything to hurt Rosamund for the world.”
“If you can’t get rid of your old tricks altogether and must flirt,” she remarked, “well, I’m always somewhere about. Rosamund wouldn’t mind me, because there are a few grey hairs in my sandy ones.—And here comes your man across the park—looks as though he had a message for you. So long as nothing has happened to your cook, I feel that I could face ill tidings with composure.”
Dominey found himself watching with fixed eyes the approach of his rather sad-faced manservant through the snow. Parkins was not dressed for such an enterprise, nor did he seem in any way to relish it. His was the stern march of duty, and, curiously enough, Dominey felt from the moment he caught sight of him that he was in some respects a messenger of Fate. Yet the message which he delivered, when at last he reached his master’s side, was in no way alarming.
“A person of the name of Miller has arrived here, sir,” he announced, “from Norwich. He is, I understand, a foreigner of some sort, who has recently landed in this country. I found it a little difficult to understand him, but her Highness’s maid conversed with him in German, and I understand that he either is or brings you a message from a certain Doctor Schmidt, with whom you were acquainted in Africa.”
The warning whistle blew at that moment, and Dominey swung round and stood at attention. His behaviour was perfectly normal. He let a hen pheasant pass over his head, and brought down a cock from very nearly the limit distance. He reloaded before he turned to Parkins.
“Is this person in a hurry?” he said.
“By no means, sir,” the man replied. “I told him that you would not be back until three or four o’clock, and he is quite content to wait.”
“Look after him yourself then, Parkins,” he directed. “We shall not be shooting late to-day. Very likely I will send Mr. Seaman back to talk to him.”
The man raised his hat respectfully and turned back towards the house. Caroline was watching her companion curiously.
“Do you find many of your acquaintances in Africa look you up, Everard?” she asked.
“Except for Seaman,” Dominey replied, looking through the barrels of his gun, “who really does not count because we crossed together, this is my first visitor from the land of fortune. I expect there will be plenty of them by and by, though. Colonials have a wonderful habit of sticking to one another.”
There was nothing in the least alarming about the appearance of Mr. Ludwig Miller. He had been exceedingly well entertained in the butler’s private sitting-room and had the air of having done full justice to the hospitality which had been offered him. He rose to his feet at Dominey’s entrance and stood at attention. But for some slight indications of military training, he would have passed anywhere as a highly respectable retired tradesman.