Back in his cab, he continued to rub his hands. No, she didn't know old Pillin! That was certain; not from her words, but from her face. She wanted to know him, or about him, anyway. She was trying to hook young Bob for that sprig of a girl--it was clear as mud. H'm! it would astonish his young friend to hear that he had called. Well, let it! And a curious mixture of emotions beset Mr. Ventnor. He saw the whole thing now so plainly, and really could not refrain from a certain admiration. The law had been properly diddled! There was nothing to prevent a man from settling money on a woman he had never seen; and so old Pillin's settlement could probably not be upset. But old Heythorp could. It was neat, though, oh! neat! And that was a fine woman--remarkably! He had a sort of feeling that if only the settlement had been in danger, it might have been worth while to have made a bargain--a woman like that could have made it worth while! And he believed her quite capable of entertaining the proposition! Her eye! Pity--quite a pity! Mrs. Ventnor was not a wife who satisfied every aspiration. But alas! the settlement was safe. This baulking of the sentiment of love, whipped up, if anything, the longing for justice in Mr. Ventnor. That old chap should feel his teeth now. As a piece of investigation it was not so bad--not so bad at all! He had had a bit of luck, of course,--no, not luck--just that knack of doing the right thing at the right moment which marks a real genius for affairs.
But getting into his train to return to Mrs. Ventnor, he thought: 'A woman like that would have been--!' And he sighed.
With a neatly written cheque for fifty pounds in his pocket Bob Pillin turned in at 23, Millicent Villas on the afternoon after Mr. Ventnor's visit. Chivalry had won the day. And he rang the bell with an elation which astonished him, for he knew he was doing a soft thing.
"Mrs. Larne is out, sir; Miss Phyllis is at home."
"Oh-h! I'm sorry. I wonder if she'd see me?"
"I think she's been washin' 'er'air, sir, but it may be dry be now. I'll see."
Bob Pillin stood stock still beneath the young woman on the wall. He could scarcely breathe. If her hair were not dry--how awful! Suddenly he heard floating down a clear but smothered "Oh! Gefoozleme!" and other words which he could not catch. The little maid came running down.
"Miss Phyllis says, sir, she'll be with you in a jiffy. And I was to tell you that Master Jock is loose, sir."