Unformatted text preview: peculative.
I went across to her, leaving Flora by the window. She gave me a handful of assorted knuckles and rings
to squeeze, and began talking volubly.
Had I heard about Flora's engagement? So suitable in every way. The dear young things had fallen in
love at first sight. Such a perfect pair, he so dark and she so fair.
'I can't tell you, my dear Dr Sheppard, the relief to a mother's heart.' Mrs Ackroyd sighed - a tribute to
her mother's heart, whilst her eyes remained shrewdly observant of me.
'I was wondering. You are such an old friend of dear Roger's. We know how much he trusts to your
So difficult for me - in my position as poor Cecil's widow.
But there are so many tiresome things - settlements, you know - all that. I fully believe that Roger intends
to make settlements upon dear Flora, but, as you know, he is just a leetle peculiar about money. Very
usual, I've heard, amongst men who are captains of industry. I wondered, you know, if you could just sound him on the subject?
Flora is so fond of you. We feel you are quite an old friend, although we have only really known you just
over two years.' Mrs Ackroyd's eloquence was cut short as the drawing-room door opened once more.
I was pleased at the interruption. I hate interfering in other people's affairs, and I had not the least
intention of tackling Ackroyd on the subject of Flora's settlements. In another moment I should have been
forced to tell Mrs Ackroyd as much.
'You know Major Blunt, don't you, doctor?' 'Yes, indeed,' I said.
A lot of people know Hector Blunt - at least by repute.
He has shot more wild animals in unlikely places than any man living, I suppose. When you mention him,
people say: 'Blunt - you don't mean the big game man, do you?' His friendship with Ackroyd has always
puzzled me a little. The two men are so totally dissimilar. Hector Blunt is perhaps five years Ackroyd's
junior. They made friends early in life, and though their ways have diverged, the friendship still holds.
About once in two years Blunt spends a fortnight at Fernly, and an immense animal's head, with an
amazing number of horns which fixes you with a glazed stare as soon as you come inside the front door,
is a permanent reminder of the friendship.
Blunt had entered the room now with his own peculiar, deliberate, yet soft-footed tread. He is a man of
medium height, sturdily and rather stockily built. His face is almost mahogany coloured, and is peculiarly
expressionless. He has grey eyes that give the impression of always watching something that is happening
very far away. He talks little, and what he does say is said jerkily, as though the words were forced out
of him unwillingly.
He said now: 'How are you, Sheppard?' in his usual abrupt fashion, and then stood squarely in front of
the fireplace looking over our heads as though he saw something very interesting happening in
'Major Blunt,' said Flora, 'I wish you'd tell me about these African things. I'm sure you know what they
all are.' I have heard Hector Blunt described as a woman hater, but I noticed that he joined Flora at the
silver table with what might be described as...
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