“I guessed as much,” the other replied. “My uncle lives with me here, and to tell you the truth he was hoping that you would come and see him. He retains one patient only,” Doctor Stillwell added, in a graver tone. “You can imagine who that would be.”
His caller bowed. “Lady Dominey, I presume.”
The young doctor opened the door and motioned to his guest to precede him.
“My uncle has his own little apartment on the other side of the house,” he said. “You must let me take you to him.”
They moved across the pleasant white stone hall into a small apartment with French windows leading out to a flagged terrace and tennis lawn. An elderly man, broad-shouldered, with weather-beaten face, grey hair, and of somewhat serious aspect, looked around from the window before which he was standing examining a case of fishing flies.
“Uncle, I have brought an old friend in to see you,” his nephew announced.
The doctor glanced expectantly at Dominey, half moved forward as though to greet him, then checked himself and shook his head doubtfully.
“You certainly remind me very much of an old friend, sir,” he said, “but I can see now that you are not he. I do not believe that I have ever seen you before in my life.”
There was a moment’s somewhat tense silence. Then Dominey advanced a little stiffly and held out his hand.
“Come, Doctor,” he said. “I can scarcely have changed as much as all that. Even these years of strenuous life—”
“You mean to tell me that I am speaking to Everard Dominey?” the doctor interposed.
“Without a doubt!”
The doctor shook hands coolly. His was certainly not the enthusiastic welcome of an old family attendant to the representative of a great family.
“I should certainly never have recognised you,” he confessed.
“My presence here is nevertheless indisputable,” Dominey continued. “Still attracted by your old pastime, I see, Doctor?”
“I have only taken up fly fishing,” the other replied drily, “since I gave up shooting.”
There was another somewhat awkward pause, which the younger man endeavoured to bridge over.
“Fishing, shooting, golf,” he said; “I really don’t know what we poor medical practitioners would do in the country without sport.”
“I shall remind you of that later,” Dominey observed. “I am told that the shooting is one of the only glories that has not passed away from Dominey.”
“I shall look forward to the reminder,” was the prompt response.
His uncle, who had been bending once more over the case of flies, turned abruptly around.
“Arthur,” he said, addressing his nephew, “you had better start on your round. I dare say Sir Everard would like to speak to me privately.”
“I wish to speak to you certainly,” Dominey admitted, “but only professionally. There is no necessity—”