A Woman Intervenes by Robert Barr
When Edith Longworth entered the office of George Wentworth, that young gentleman somewhat surprised her. He sprang from his chair the moment she entered the room, rushed out of the door, and shouted at the top of his voice to the boy, who answered him, whereupon Wentworth returned to the room, apparently in his right mind.
'I beg your pardon, Miss Longworth,' he said, laughing; 'the fact was, I had just sent my boy with a telegram for you, and now, you see, I have saved sixpence.'
'Then you have heard from Canada?' said the young lady.
'Yes; a short message, but to the point.' He handed her the cablegram, and she read:
'Mine purchased; shall take charge temporarily.'
'Then, the money got there in time,' she said, handing him back the telegraphic message.
'Oh yes,' said George, with the easy confidence of a man who doesn't at all know what he is talking about. 'We had plenty of time; I knew it would get there all right.'
'I am glad of that; I was afraid perhaps we might have sent it too late. One can never tell what delays or formalities there may be.'
'Evidently there was no trouble. And now, Miss Longworth, what are your commands? Am I to be your agent here, in Great Britain?'
'Have you written to Mr. Kenyon?'
'Yes, I wrote to him just after I sent the cable message.'
'Of course you didn't----'
'No, I didn't say a word that would lead him to suspect who was the mistress of the mine. In my zeal I even went so far as to give you a name. You are hereafter to be known in the correspondence as Mr. Smith, the owner of the mine.'
Miss Longworth laughed.
'And--oh, by the way,' cried Wentworth, 'here is a barrel belonging to you.'
'A barrel!' she said, and, looking in the direction to which he pointed, she saw in the corner of the room a barrel with the head taken away. 'If it is my property,' continued the young woman, 'who has taken the liberty of opening it?'
'Oh, I did that as your agent. That barrel contains the mineral from the mine, which we hope will prove so valuable. It started from Canada over three months ago, and only arrived here the other day. It seems that the idiot who sent it addressed it by way of New York, and it was held by some Jack-in-office belonging to the United States Customs. We have had more diplomatic correspondence and trouble about that barrel than you can imagine, and now it comes a day behind the fair, when it is really of no use to anyone.'
Miss Longworth rose and went to the barrel. She picked out some of the beautiful white specimens that were in it.
'Is this the mineral?' she asked.
'Imagine a person buying a mine at an exorbitant price, and not knowing what it produces. Yes, that is the mineral.'
'This is not mica, of course?'
'No, it is not mica. That is the stuff used for the making of china.'
'It looks as if it would take a good polish. Will it, do you know?'
'I do not know. I could easily find out for you.'
'I wish you would, and get a piece of it polished, which I will use as a paper-weight.'
'What are your orders for the rest of the barrel?'
'What did you intend doing with it?' said the young woman.
'Well, I was thinking the best plan would be to send some of it to each of the pottery works in this country, and get their orders for more of the stuff, if they want to use it.'
'I think that an extremely good idea. I understand from the cablegram that Mr. Kenyon says he will take charge of the mine temporarily.'
'Yes; I imagine he left Ottawa at once, as soon as he had concluded his bargain. Of course, we shall not know for certain until he writes.'
'Very well, then, it appears to me the best thing you could do over here would be to secure what orders can be obtained in England for the mineral. Then, I suppose, you could write to Mr. Kenyon, and ask him to engage a proper person to work the mine.'
'Yes, I will do that.'
'When he comes over here, you and he can have a consultation as to the best thing to do next. I expect nothing very definite can be arranged until he comes. You may make whatever excuse you can for the absence of the mythical Mr. Smith, and say that you act for him. Then you may tell Mr. Kenyon, in whatever manner you choose, that Mr. Smith intends both you and Mr. Kenyon to share conjointly with him. I think you will have no trouble in making John--that is, in making Mr. Kenyon--believe there is such a person as Mr. Smith, if you put it strongly enough to him. Make him understand that Mr. Smith would never have heard of the mine unless Mr. Kenyon and you had discovered it, and that he is very glad indeed to have such a good opportunity of investing his money; so that, naturally, he wishes those who have been instrumental in helping him to this investment to share in its profits. I imagine you can make all this clear enough, so that your friend will suspect nothing. Don't you think so?'
'Well, with any other man than John Kenyon I should have my doubts, because, as a fabricator, I don't think I have a very high reputation; but with John I have no fears whatever. He will believe everything I say. It is almost a pity to delude so trustful a man, but it's so very much to his own advantage that I shall have no hesitation in doing it.'
'Then, you will write to him about getting a fit and proper person to manage the mine?'
'Yes. I don't think there will be any necessity for doing so, but I will make sure. I imagine John will not leave there until he sees everything to his satisfaction. He will be very anxious indeed for the mine to prove the great success he has always believed it to be, even though, at present, he does not know he is to have any pecuniary interest in its prosperity.'
'Very well then, I shall bid you good-bye. I may not be here again, but whenever you hear from Mr. Kenyon, I shall be very glad if you will let me know.'
'Certainly; I will send you all the documents in the case, as you once remarked. You always like to see the original papers, don't you?'
'Yes, I suppose I do.' Miss Longworth lingered a moment at the door, then, looking straight at Wentworth, she said to him, 'You remember you spoke rather bitterly to my father the other day?'
'Yes,' said Wentworth, colouring; 'I remember it.'
'You are a young man; he is old. Besides that, I think you were entirely in the wrong. He had nothing whatever to do with his nephew's action.'
'Oh, I know that,' said Wentworth. 'I would have apologized to him long ago, only--well, you know, he told me I shouldn't be allowed in the office again, and I don't suppose I should.'
'A letter from you would be allowed in the office,' replied the young lady, looking at the floor.
'Of course it would,' said George; 'I will write to him instantly and apologize.'
'It is very good of you,' said, Edith, holding out her hand to him; the next moment she was gone.
George Wentworth turned to his desk and wrote a letter of apology. Then he mused to himself upon the strange and incomprehensible nature of women. 'She makes me apologize to him, and quite right too; but if it hadn't been for the row with her father, she never would have heard about the transaction, and therefore couldn't have bought the mine, which she was anxious to do for Kenyon's sake--lucky beggar John is, after all!'