On these conditions four or five weeks passed away very happily for the two women. Lady Garvington certainly had the time of her life, and regained a portion of her lost youth. She revelled in shopping, went in a quiet way to theatres, patronized skating rinks, and even attended one or two small winter dances. And to her joy, she met with a nice young man, who was earnestly in pursuit of a new religion, which involved much fasting and occasional vegetarian meals. He taught her to eat nuts, and eschew meats, talking meanwhile of the psychic powers which such abstemiousness would develop in her. Of course Lady Garvington did not overdo this asceticism, but she was thankful to meet a man who had not read Beeton's Cookery Book. Besides, he flirted quite nicely.

Agnes, pleased to see her sister-in-law enjoying life, gave her attention to Garvington's affairs, and found them in a woeful mess. It really did appear as if she would have to save the Lambert family from ever-lasting disgrace, and from being entirely submerged, by keeping hold of her millions. But she did not lose heart, and worked on bravely in the hope that an adjustment would save a few thousand a year for Freddy, without touching any of Pine's money. If she could manage to secure him a sufficient income to keep up the title, and to prevent the sale of The Manor in Hengishire, she then intended to surrender her husband's wealth and retire to a country life with Noel as her husband.

"He can paint and I can look after the cottage along with Mrs. Tribb," she told Mrs. Belgrove, who called to see her one day, more painted and dyed and padded and tastefully dressed than ever. "We can keep fowls and things, you know," she added vaguely.

"Quite an idyl," tittered the visitor, and then went away to tell her friends that Lady Agnes must have been in love with her cousin all the time. And as the contents of the will were now generally known, every one agreed that the woman was a fool to give up wealth for a dull existence in the woods. "All the same it's very sweet," sighed Mrs. Belgrove, having made as much mischief as she possibly could. "I should like it myself if I could only dress as a Watteau shepherdess, you know, and carry a lamb with a blue ribbon round its dear neck."

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Of course, Lady Agnes heard nothing of this ill-natured chatter, since she did not go into society during her period of mourning, and received only a few of her most intimate friends. Moreover, besides attending to Garvington's affairs, it was necessary that she should have frequent consultations with Mr. Jarwin in his stuffy Chancery Lane office, relative to the large fortune left by her late husband. There, on three occasions she met Silver, the ex-secretary, when he came to explain various matters to the solicitor. With the consent of Lady Agnes, the man had been discharged, when Jarvin took over the management of the millions, but having a thorough knowledge of Pine's financial dealings, it was necessary that he should be questioned every now and then.

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Silver was rather sulky over his abrupt dismissal, but cunningly concealed his real feelings when in the presence of the widow, since she was too opulent a person to offend. It was Silver who suggested that a reward should be offered for the detection of Pine's assassin. Lady Agnes approved of the idea, and indeed was somewhat shocked that she had not thought of taking this course herself. Therefore, within seven days every police office in the United Kingdom was placarded with bills, stating that the sum of one thousand pounds would be given to the person or persons who should denounce the culprit. The amount offered caused quite a flutter of excitement, and public interest in the case was revived for nearly a fortnight. At the conclusion of that period, as nothing fresh was discovered, people ceased to discuss the matter. It seemed as though the reward, large as it was, would never be claimed.

But having regard to the fact that Silver was interesting himself in the endeavor to avenge his patron's death, Lady Agnes was not at all surprised to receive a visit from him one foggy November afternoon. She certainly did not care much for the little man, but feeling dull and somewhat lonely, she quite welcomed his visit. Lady Garvington had gone with her ascetic admirer to a lecture on "Souls and Sorrows!" therefore Agnes had a spare hour for the ex-secretary. He was shown into her own particular private sitting-room, and she welcomed him with studied politeness, for try as she might it was impossible for her to overcome her mistrust.

"Good-day, Mr. Silver," she said, when he bowed before her. "This is an unexpected visit. Won't you be seated?"

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Silver accepted her offer of a chair with an air of demure shyness, and sitting on its edge stared at her rather hard. He looked neat and dapper in his Bond Street kit, and for a man who had started life as a Whitechapel toymaker, his manners were inoffensive. While Pine's secretary he had contrived to pick up hints in the way of social behavior, and undoubtedly he was clever, since he so readily adapted himself to his surroundings. He was not a gentleman, but he looked like a gentleman, and therein lay a subtle difference as Lady Agnes decided. She unconsciously in her manner, affable as it was, suggested the gulf between them, and Silver, quickly contacting the atmosphere, did not love her any the more for the hint.

Nevertheless, he admired her statuesque beauty, the fairness of which was accentuated by her sombre dress. Blinking like a well-fed cat, Silver stared at his hostess, and she looked questioningly at him. With his foxy face, his reddish hair, and suave manners, too careful to be natural, he more than ever impressed her with the idea that he was a dangerous man. Yet she could not see in what way he could reveal his malignant disposition.

"What do you wish to see me about, Mr. Silver?" she asked kindly, but did not—as he swiftly noticed—offer him a cup of tea, although it was close upon five o'clock.

"I have come to place my services at your disposal," he said in a low voice.

"Really, I am not aware that I need them," replied Lady Agnes coldly, and not at all anxious to accept the offer.

"I think," said Silver dryly, and clearing his throat, "that when you hear what I have to say you will be glad that I have come."