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The Malefactor

I.10. A Forlorn Hope
Aynesworth ceased tugging at the strap of his portmanteau, and rose slowly to his feet. A
visitor had entered his rooms--apparently unannounced.
"I must apologize," the newcomer said, "for my intrusion. Your housekeeper, I presume it
was, whom I saw below, told me to come up."
Aynesworth pushed forward a chair.
"Won't you sit down?" he said. "I believe that I am addressing Mr. Lumley Barrington."
Not altogether without embarrassment, Barrington seated himself. Something of his
ordinary confidence of bearing and demeanor had certainly deserted him. His manner,
too, was nervous. He had the air of being altogether ill at ease.
"I must apologize further, Mr. Aynesworth," he continued, "for an apparently ill-timed
visit. You are, I see, on the eve of a journey."
"I am leaving for America tomorrow," Aynesworth answered.
"With Sir Wingrave Seton, I presume?" Barrington remarked.
"Precisely," Aynesworth answered.
Barrington hesitated for a moment. Aynesworth was civil, but inquiring. He felt himself
very awkwardly placed.
"Mr. Aynesworth," he said, "I must throw myself upon your consideration. You can
possibly surmise the reason of my visit."
Aynesworth shook his head.
"I am afraid," he said, "that I must plead guilty to denseness--in this particular instance, at
any rate. I am altogether at a loss to account for it."
"You have had some conversation with my wife, I believe?"
"Yes. But--"
"Before you proceed, Mr. Aynesworth," Barrington interrupted, "one word. You are
aware that Sir Wingrave Seton is in possession of certain documents in which my wife is
interested, which he refuses to give up?"
 
 
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