The Man HTML version

21. The Duty Of Courtesy
Leonard was getting tired of waiting when he received his summons to Normanstand. But
despite his impatience he was ill pleased with the summons, which came in the shape of a
polite note from Miss Rowly asking him to come that afternoon at tea-time. He had
expected to hear from Stephen.
'Damn that old woman! You'd think she was working the whole show!' However, he
turned up at a little before five o'clock, spruce and dapper and well dressed and groomed
as usual. He was shown, as before, into the blue drawing-room. Miss Rowly, who sat
there, rose as he entered, and coming across the room, greeted him, as he thought,
effusively. He actually winced when she called him 'my dear boy' before the butler.
She ordered tea to be served at once, and when it had been brought she said to the butler:
'Tell Mannerly to bring me a large thick envelope which is on the table in my room. It is
marked L.E. on the outside.' Presently an elderly maid handed her the envelope and
withdrew. When tea was over she opened the envelope, and taking from it a number of
folios, looked over them carefully; holding them in her lap, she said quietly:
'You will find writing materials on the table. I am all ready now to hand you over the
receipts.' His eyes glistened. This was good news at all events; the debts were paid. In a
rapid flash of thought he came to the conclusion that if the debts were actually paid he
need not be civil to the old lady. He felt that he could have been rude to her if he had
actual possession of the receipts. As it was, however, he could not yet afford to have any
unpleasantness. There was still to come that lowering interview with his father; and he
could not look towards it satisfactorily until he had the assurance of the actual documents
that he was safe. Miss Rowly was, in her own way, reading his mind in his face. Her
lorgnon seemed to follow his every expression like a searchlight. He remembered his
former interview with her, and how he had been bested in it; so he made up his mind to
acquiesce in time. He went over to the table and sat down. Taking a pen he turned to Miss
Rowly and said:
'What shall I write?' She answered calmly:
'Date it, and then say, "Received from Miss Laetitia Rowly the receipts for the following
amounts from the various firms hereunder enumerated."' She then proceeded to read
them, he writing and repeating as he wrote. Then she added:
'"The same being the total amount of my debts which she has kindly paid for me."' He
paused here; she asked.
'Why don't you go on?'