The Malefactor HTML version

I.2. Outside The Pale
Three men were together in a large and handsomely furnished sitting room of the
Clarence Hotel, in Piccadilly. One, pale, quiet, and unobtrusive, dressed in sober black,
the typical lawyer's clerk, was busy gathering up a collection of papers and documents
from the table, over which they had been strewn. His employer, who had more the
appearance of a country gentleman than the junior partner in the well-known firm of
Rocke and Son, solicitors, had risen to his feet, and was drawing on his gloves. At the
head of the table was the client.
"I trust, Sir Wingrave, that you are satisfied with this account of our stewardship," the
solicitor said, as his clerk left the room. "We have felt it a great responsibility at times,
but everything seems to have turned out very well. The investments, of course, are all
above suspicion."
"Perfectly satisfied, I thank you," was the quiet reply. "You seem to have studied my
interests in a very satisfactory manner."
Mr. Rocke had other things to say, but his client's manner seemed designed to create a
barrier of formality between them. He hesitated, unwilling to leave, yet finding it
exceedingly difficult to say the things which were in his mind. He temporized by
referring back to matters already discussed, solely for the purpose of prolonging the
"You have quite made up your mind, then, to put the Tredowen property on the market,"
he remarked. "You will excuse my reminding you of the fact that you have large
accumulated funds in hand, and nearly a hundred thousand pounds worth of easily
realizable securities. Tredowen has been in your mother's family for a good many years,
and I should doubt whether it will be easily disposed of."
The man at the head of the table raised his head. He looked steadily at the lawyer, who
began to wish that he had left the room with his clerk. Decidedly, Sir Wingrave Seton
was not an easy man to get on with.
"My mind is quite made up, thank you, on this and all other matters concerning which I
have given you instructions," was the calm reply. "I have had plenty of time for
consideration," he added drily.
The lawyer had his opening at last, and he plunged.
"Sir Wingrave," he said, "we were at college together, and our connection is an old one.
You must forgive me if I say how glad I am to see you here, and to know that your bad
time is over. I can assure you that you have had my deepest sympathy. Nothing ever
upset me so much as that unfortunate affair. I sincerely trust that you will do your best
now to make up for lost time. You are still young, and you are rich. Let us leave business