The Evil Genius
Having read Mrs. Linley's answer, Mr. Sarrazin looked out of the breakfast-room
window, and saw that the fog had reached the cottage. Before Mrs. Presty could make
any remark on the change in the weather, he surprised her by an extraordinary question.
"Is there an upper room here, ma'am, which has a view of the road before your front
"And can I go into it without disturbing anybody?"
Mrs. Presty said, "Of course!" with an uplifting of her eye brows which expressed
astonishment not unmixed with suspicion. "Do you want to go up now?" she added, "or
will you wait till you have had your breakfast?"
"I want to go up, if you please, before the fog thickens. Oh, Mrs. Presty, I am ashamed to
trouble you! Let the servant show me the room."
No. For the first time in her life Mrs. Presty insisted on doing servant's duty. If she had
been crippled in both legs her curiosity would have helped her to get up the stairs on her
hands. "There!" she said, opening the door of the upper room, and placing herself exactly
in the middle of it, so that she could see all round her: "Will that do for you?"
Mr. Sarrazin went to the window; hid himself behind the curtain; and cautiously peeped
out. In half a minute he turned his back on the misty view of the road, and said to
himself: "Just what I expected."
Other women might have asked what this mysterious proceeding meant. Mrs. Presty's
sense of her own dignity adopted a system of independent discovery. To Mr. Sarrazin's
amusement, she imitated him to his face. Advancing to the window, she, too, hid herself
behind the curtain, and she, too, peeped out. Still following her model, she next turned
her back on the view--and then she became herself again. "Now we have both looked out
of window," she said to the lawyer, in her own inimitably impudent way, "suppose we
compare our impressions."
This was easily done. They had both seen the same two men walking backward and
forward, opposite the front gate of the cottage. Before the advancing fog made it
impossible to identify him, Mr. Sarrazin had recognized in one of the men his agreeable
fellow-traveler on the journey from London. The other man--a stranger--was in all
probability an assistant spy obtained in the neighborhood. This discovery suggested
serious embarrassment in the future. Mrs. Presty asked what was to be done next. Mr.
Sarrazin answered: "Let us have our breakfast."