with sufficient distinctness of utterance to reach my ears.
"Make your mind easy, Sir Percival," I heard the lawyer say; "it all rests with Lady Glyde."
I had turned to go back to my own room for a minute or two, but the sound of Laura's name on the lips of a stranger stopped me instantly. I daresay it was very wrong and very discreditable to listen, but where is the woman, in the whole range of our sex, who can regulate her actions by the abstract principles of honour, when those principles point one way, and when her affections, and the interests which grow out of them, point the other?
I listened—and under similar circumstances I would listen again— yes! with my ear at the keyhole, if I could not possibly manage it in any other way.
"You quite understand, Sir Percival," the lawyer went on. "Lady Glyde is to sign her name in the presence of a witness—or of two witnesses, if you wish to be particularly careful—and is then to put her finger on the seal and say, 'I deliver this as my act and deed.' If that is done in a week's time the arrangement will be perfectly successful, and the anxiety will be all over. If not——"
"What do you mean by 'if not'?" asked Sir Percival angrily. "If the thing must be done it SHALL be done. I promise you that, Merriman."
"Just so, Sir Percival—just so; but there are two alternatives in all transactions, and we lawyers like to look both of them in the face boldly. If through any extraordinary circumstance the arrangement should not be made, I think I may be able to get the parties to accept bills at three months. But how the money is to be raised when the bills fall due——"
"Damn the bills! The money is only to be got in one way, and in that way, I tell you again, it SHALL be got. Take a glass of wine, Merriman, before you go."
"Much obliged, Sir Percival, I have not a moment to lose if I am to catch the up-train. You will let me know as soon as the arrangement is complete? and you will not forget the caution I recommended——"
"Of course I won't. There's the dog-cart at the door for you. My groom will get you to the station in no time. Benjamin, drive like mad! Jump in. If Mr. Merriman misses the train you lose your place. Hold fast, Merriman, and if you are upset trust to the devil to save his own." With that parting benediction the baronet turned about and walked back to the library.