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Lord Dawlish sat in the New York flat which had been lent him by his friend Gates. The hour was half-past ten in the evening; the day, the second day after the exodus of Nutty Boyd from the farm. Before him on the table lay a letter. He was smoking pensively.
Lord Dawlish had found New York enjoyable, but a trifle fatiguing. There was much to be seen in the city, and he had made the mistake of trying to see it all at once. It had been his intention, when he came home after dinner that night, to try to restore the balance of things by going to bed early. He had sat up longer than he had intended, because he had been thinking about this letter.
Immediately upon his arrival in America, Bill had sought out a lawyer and instructed him to write to Elizabeth Boyd, offering her one-half of the late Ira Nutcombe's money. He had had time during the voyage to think the whole matter over, and this seemed to him the only possible course. He could not keep it all. He would feel like the despoiler of the widow and the orphan. Nor would it be fair to Claire to give it all up. If he halved the legacy everybody would be satisfied.
That at least had been his view until Elizabeth's reply had arrived. It was this reply that lay on the table--a brief, formal note, setting forth Miss Boyd's absolute refusal to accept any portion of the money. This was a development which Bill had not foreseen, and he was feeling baffled. What was the next step? He had smoked many pipes in the endeavour to find an answer to this problem, and was lighting another when the door-bell rang.
He opened the door and found himself confronting an extraordinarily tall and thin young man in evening-dress.
Lord Dawlish was a little startled. He had taken it for granted, when the bell rang, that his visitor was Tom, the liftman from downstairs, a friendly soul who hailed from London and had been dropping in at intervals during the past two days to acquire the latest news from his native land. He stared at this changeling inquiringly. The solution of the mystery came with the stranger's first words--
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