Gustav Kobbé (B. 1857)

Mrs. Graves at home?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Any one with her?”

“Mr. Benton, sir. They’re upstairs in the library, sir.”

“Did Mr. Benton’s brokers call up from the city?”

“Yes sir.”

“Did they get him?”

“No, sir. He sent word from upstairs there was no hurry—he would call up the office later himself.”

“Put some Scotch and carbonic on the table, and let Mrs. Graves know I’m here.”

He went into the drawing-room. With a critical eye he regarded a tapestry panel over the door. Placing himself in a good position for light, he surveyed the paintings on the wall. Then he furrowed the rug with the point of his shoe, and watched the play of colour in the soft, deep pile.

He passed into the dining-room. The butler had put the Scotch and carbonic and a silver bowl with cracked ice on the table. But Graves first looked around here, as he had in the drawing-room. The panelling was English oak, intact from an Elizabethan mansion in one of the shires, with furniture and everything complete. The bowl and the rest of the silver on the serving table were of the same period. The room, like the one from which he had come, was in admirable taste.

He was very deliberate. Pouring out his Scotch, he added a squirt from the siphon, and listened to the tinkle of the ice as it floated against the sides of the thin glass, before he drank. Through the large, oblong window, with its heavy yet clear pane, he saw his garage and, in front of it, the handsome limousine, in which he had just driven up from the station. The lawn, with it’s flower-beds and trees, made a fine expanse, as it sloped down to the river, where his yacht lay at his private landing.

Pausing again at the drawing-room, for a final and apparently satisfied look at the apartment, he stepped into the hall and took the lift upstairs.

“How’s Archie Graves—‘the coming man of Wall Street’?” asked Benton, with the supercilious drawl that was one of the things Graves hated about him.

No two men could have offered a sharper contrast to each other than Graves and the man who was dawdling about his wife. Benton was spare, tall and rather languid-looking, an impression confirmed by his fair, longish hair, blue eyes, and weak mouth; whereas from every line of Graves’ strongly marked features, as well as from his vigorous frame, spoke the determination of the man who goes ahead and doesn’t bother about complications till he’s gotten what he wants.

“Well?” he asked in a comprehensive way that included them both, yet ignored Benton’s effort.

“We’ve been up the river in the yacht,” said his wife. “After luncheon on the island we shot at a target. I hit it twice!”

“I thought you hated shooting. You always said you were afraid of the noise.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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