“I like your vicar so much, Lady Mary,” said I, as soon as he was gone. “He has read, traveled, and thought, and having also suffered, he ought to be an accomplished companion.”
“So he is, and, better still, he is a really good man,” said she. “His advice is invaluable about my schools, and all my little undertakings at Dawlbridge, and he’s so painstaking, he takes so much trouble — you have no idea — wherever he thinks he can be of use: he’s so good-natured and so sensible.”
“It is pleasant to hear so good an account of his neighbourly virtues. I can only testify to his being an agreeable and gentle companion, and in addition to what you have told me, I think I can tell you two or three things about him,” said I.
“Yes, to begin with, he’s unmarried.”
“Yes, that’s right —-go on.”
“He has been writing, that is he was, but for two or three years perhaps, he has not gone on with his work, and the book was upon some rather abstract subject — perhaps theology.”
“Well, he was writing a book, as you say; I’m not quite sure what it was about, but only that it was nothing that I cared for; very likely you are right, and he certainly did stop — yes.”
“And although he only drank a little coffee here to-night, he likes tea, at least, did like it extravagantly.”
“Yes, that’s quite true.”
“He drank green tea, a good deal, didn’t he?” I pursued.
“Well, that’s very odd! Green tea was a subject on which we used almost to quarrel.”
“But he has quite given that up,” said I. “So he has.”
“And, now, one more fact. His mother or his father, did you know them?”
“Yes, both; his father is only ten years dead, and their place is near Dawlbridge. We knew them very well,” she answered.
“Well, either his mother or his father — I should rather think his father, saw a ghost,” said I.
“Well, you really are a conjurer, Dr. Hesselius.”
“Conjurer or no, haven’t I said right?” I answered merrily.
“You certainly have, and it was his father: he was a silent, whimsical man, and he used to bore my father about his dreams, and at last he told him a story about a ghost he had seen and talked with, and a very odd story it was. I remember it particularly, because I was so afraid of him. This story was long before he died — when I was quite a child — and his ways were so silent and moping, and he used to drop in sometimes, in the dusk, when I was alone in the drawing-room, and I used to fancy there were ghosts about him.”
I smiled and nodded.
“And now, having established my character as a conjurer, I think I must say good-night!” said I.
“But how did you find it out?”
“By the planets, of course, as the gypsies do,” I answered, and so, gaily we said good-night.
Next morning I sent the little book he had been inquiring after, and a note to Mr. Jennings, and on returning late that evening, I found that he had called at my lodgings, and left his card. He asked whether I was at home, and asked at what hour he would be most likely to find me.
Does he intend opening his case, and consulting me “professionally,” as they say? I hope so. I have already conceived a theory about him. It is supported by Lady Mary’s answers to my parting questions. I should like much to ascertain from his own lips. But what can I do consistently with good breeding to invite a confession? Nothing. I rather think he meditates one. At all events, my dear Van L., I shan’t make myself difficult of access; I mean to return his visit tomorrow. It will be only civil in return for his politeness, to ask to see him. Perhaps something may come of it. Whether much, little, or nothing, my dear Van L., you shall hear.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:52