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28. Mr. Randal Linley
Winter had come and gone; spring was nearing its end, and London still suffered under
the rigid regularity of easterly winds. Although in less than a week summer would begin
with the first of June, Mr. Sarrazin was glad to find his office warmed by a fire, when he
arrived to open the letters of the day.
The correspondence in general related exclusively to proceedings connected with the law.
Two letters only presented an exception to the general rule. The first was addressed in
Mrs. Linley's handwriting, and bore the postmark of Hanover. Kitty's mother had not
only succeeded in getting to the safe side of the lake--she and her child had crossed the
German Ocean as well. In one respect her letter was a remarkable composition. Although
it was written by a lady, it was short enough to be read in less than a minute:
I have just time to write by this evening's post. Our excellent courier has satisfied himself
that the danger of discovery has passed away. The wretches have been so completely
deceived that they are already on their way back to England, to lie in wait for us at
Folkestone and Dover. To-morrow morning we leave this charming place--oh, how
unwillingly!--for Bremen, to catch the steamer to Hull. You shall hear from me again on
our arrival.
Gratefully yours,
Mr. Sarrazin put this letter into a private drawer and smiled as he turned the key. "Has
she made up her mind at last?" he asked himself. "But for the courier, I shouldn't feel sure
of her even now."
The second letter agreeably surprised him. It was announced that the writer had just
returned from the United States; it invited him to dinner that evening; and it was signed
"Randal Linley." In Mr. Sarrazin's estimation, Randal had always occupied a higher place
than his brother. The lawyer had known Mrs. Linley before her marriage, and had been
inclined to think that she would have done wisely if she had given her hand to the
younger brother instead of the elder. His acquaintance with Randal ripened rapidly into
friendship. But his relations with Herbert made no advance toward intimacy: there was a
gentlemanlike cordiality between them, and nothing more.
At seven o'clock the two friends sat at a snug little table, in the private room of a hotel,
with an infinite number of questions to ask of each other, and with nothing to interrupt
them but a dinner of such extraordinary merit that it insisted on being noticed, from the
first course to the last.