Ferrari's wife listened, without being convinced: her narrow little mind, filled to its extreme capacity by her unfavourable opinion of Mr. Troy, had no room left for the process of correcting its first impression. 'I am much obliged to you, sir,' was all she said. Her eyes were more communicative--her eyes added, in their language, 'You may say what you please; I will never forgive you to my dying day.'
Mr. Troy gave it up. He composedly wheeled his chair around, put his hands in his pockets, and looked out of window.
After an interval of silence, the drawing-room door was opened.
Mr. Troy wheeled round again briskly to the table, expecting to see Agnes. To his surprise there appeared, in her place, a perfect stranger to him-- a gentleman, in the prime of life, with a marked expression of pain and embarrassment on his handsome face. He looked at Mr. Troy, and bowed gravely.
'I am so unfortunate as to have brought news to Miss Agnes Lockwood which has greatly distressed her,' he said. 'She has retired to her room. I am requested to make her excuses, and to speak to you in her place.'
Having introduced himself in those terms, he noticed Mrs. Ferrari, and held out his hand to her kindly. 'It is some years since we last met, Emily,' he said. 'I am afraid you have almost forgotten the "Master Henry" of old times.' Emily, in some little confusion, made her acknowledgments, and begged to know if she could be of any use to Miss Lockwood. 'The old nurse is with her,' Henry answered; 'they will be better left together.' He turned once more to Mr. Troy. 'I ought to tell you,' he said, 'that my name is Henry Westwick. I am the younger brother of the late Lord Montbarry.'
'The late Lord Montbarry!' Mr. Troy exclaimed.
'My brother died at Venice yesterday evening. There is the telegram.' With that startling answer, he handed the paper to Mr. Troy.
The message was in these words:
'Lady Montbarry, Venice. To Stephen Robert Westwick, Newbury's Hotel, London. It is useless to take the journey. Lord Montbarry died of bronchitis, at 8.40 this evening. All needful details by post.'
'Was this expected, sir?' the lawyer asked.
'I cannot say that it has taken us entirely by surprise, Henry answered. 'My brother Stephen (who is now the head of the family) received a telegram three days since, informing him that alarming symptoms had declared themselves, and that a second physician had been called in. He telegraphed back to say that he had left Ireland for London, on his way to Venice, and to direct that any further message might be sent to his hotel. The reply came in a second telegram. It announced that Lord Montbarry was in a state of insensibility, and that, in his brief intervals of consciousness, he recognised nobody. My brother was advised to wait in London for later information. The third telegram is now in your hands. That is all I know, up to the present time.'
Happening to look at the courier's wife, Mr. Troy was struck by the expression of blank fear which showed itself in the woman's face.
'Mrs. Ferrari,' he said, 'have you heard what Mr. Westwick has just told me?'
'Every word of it, sir.'
'Have you any questions to ask?'
'You seem to be alarmed,' the lawyer persisted. 'Is it still about your husband?'
'I shall never see my husband again, sir. I have thought so all along, as you know. I feel sure of it now.'
'Sure of it, after what you have just heard?'
'Can you tell me why?'
'No, sir. It's a feeling I have. I can't tell why.'