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you! Oh, dear, dear, what a relief it is to see you." He stopped and sat down at the
table, his face flushed with the effort to control the impatience that was devouring
him. "Tell me about her!" he burst out, giving up the effort with a sudden self-
abandonment. "I shall die, Jemmy, if I wait for it any longer. Tell me! tell me! tell
"One thing at a time," said Bashwood the younger, perfectly unmoved by his
father's impatience. "We'll try the breakfast first, and come to the lady afterward!
Gently does it, old gentleman--gently does it!"
He put his leather bag on a chair, and sat down opposite to his father, composed,
and smiling, and humming a little tune.
No ordinary observation, applying the ordinary rules of analysis, would have
detected the character of Bashwood the younger in his face. His youthful look,
aided by his light hair and his plump beardless cheeks, his easy manner and his
ever-ready smile, his eyes which met unshrinkingly the eyes of every one whom
he addressed, all combined to make the impression of him a favorable impression
in the general mind. No eye for reading character, but such an eye as belongs to
one person, perhaps, in ten thousand, could have penetrated the smoothly
deceptive surface of this man, and have seen him for what he really was--the vile
creature whom the viler need of Society has fashioned for its own use. There he
sat--the Confidential Spy of modern times, whose business is steadily enlarging,
whose Private Inquiry Offices are steadily on the increase. There he sat--the
necessary Detective attendant on the progress of our national civilization; a man
who was, in this instance at least, the legitimate and intelligible product of the
vocation that employed him; a man professionally ready on the merest suspicion
(if the merest suspicion paid him) to get under our beds, and to look through
gimlet-holes in our doors; a man who would have been useless to his employers if
he could have felt a touch of human sympathy in his father's presence; and who
would have deservedly forfeited his situation if, under any circumstances
whatever, he had been personally accessible to a sense of pity or a sense of
"Gently does it, old gentleman," he repeated, lifting the covers from the dishes,
and looking under them one after the other all round the table. "Gently does it!"
"Don't be angry with me, Jemmy," pleaded his father. "Try, if you can, to think
how anxious I must be. I got your letter so long ago as yesterday morning. I have
had to travel all the way from Thorpe Ambrose--I have had to get through the
dreadful long evening and the dreadful long night--with your letter telling me that
you had found out who she is, and telling me nothing more. Suspense is very hard
to bear, Jemmy, when you come to my age. What was it prevented you, my dear,
from coming to me when I got here yesterday evening?"
"A little dinner at Richmond," said Bashwood the younger. "Give me some tea."
Mr. Bashwood tried to comply with the request; but the hand with which he lifted
the teapot trembled so unmanageably that the tea missed the cup and streamed out
on the cloth. "I'm very sorry; I can't help trembling when I'm anxious," said the
old man, as his son took the tea-pot out of his hand. "I'm afraid you bear me
malice, Jemmy, for what happened when I was last in town. I own I was obstinate
and unreasonable about going back to Thorpe Ambrose. I'm more sensible now.