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The Twelfth Hour By Ada Leverson Characters: 5974

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

Savile had written asking Jasmyn Vere to see him on a matter of importance.

Jasmyn promptly and courteously made an appointment, and spent the intervening hours chuckling to himself at the solemn tone of the letter, and wondering what in Heaven's name the child could possibly want.

He received Savile in a kind of winter garden, or conservatory at the back of his house, and went to meet him with the most charming cordiality, to put the boy at his ease. He would have been rather surprised had he known that something about his reddish hair, and his mouth open with hospitable welcome against the green background, reminded the boy irresistibly of an amiable gold-fish.

"So delighted, dear boy, that you should have thought of me. Anything, of course, in the world that I could do for you, or for any of your charming family, I should look upon as a real privilege. Have a cigarette? You smoke, of course? You oughtn't to. Take this nice comfortable chair-not that one, it's horrid-and tell me all about it."

"Thanks, awfully," said Savile seriously, intensely amused at his host's nervous, elaborate politeness, and trying hard to repress the inclination to laugh that Jasmyn always inspired in him. How fluttered and flattered the dear old thing seemed! Savile wasn't a bit frightened of him.

"I knew you know all about things, Mr. Vere," said Savile, accepting a cigarette and a cushioned deck-chair, "and I thought I'd ask your advice about something."

Jasmyn was completely at a loss. Could it be a question of a tenner? It so often was. But no, he felt sure that it was nothing quite so commonplace, or quite so simple.

In a few minutes he had heard and thoroughly taken in the whole story.

He was most interested, and particularly sympathetic about Sylvia, though from his own point of view-the worldly social-conventional view-she ought to have done better. As he thought it over he walked up and down the winter garden.

Some birds were twittering in gold cages among the palms and plants, and every now and then he stopped to talk to them in the little language one uses to pets, which irritated Savile to the verge of madness.

"I know of one thing," said Jasmyn, "and only one, that might do. I know a charming young fellow who's been ordered to travel for a year, and needs a companion. He doesn't want to go, a bit; but his relatives might be able to persuade him to, if he took a fancy to Woodville, and I'm sure he would. He's just a little mad. That would be delightful for your friend if he could get it: yachting for six months; a motoring tour in Italy; all sorts of nice things. He's a man called Newman Ferguson."

"But you see, it's Woodville himself who wants a companion," said Savile. "I don't think in his present state he'd be particularly keen on being shut up alone on a yacht with a raving lunatic, and struggling with him in a padded state-room. I shouldn't think he'd do for the post. Then, I don't see how his going away

for a year would help."

"True, my dear boy. How clever you are! Well, I suppose I must think it over, and look round."

Savile looked very disappointed.

"I mustn't let you go without giving you some hope, though. I see how much your heart is in it!" said Jasmyn good-naturedly.

"Can you give any general sort of advice?" Savile asked. "How does a chap get things?"

"It's very, very difficult, dear Savile, and it's getting more and more difficult-unless you're related to somebody-or have heaps of money. The really best thing, of course, for our friend, would be to go into some kind of business. I'll look out and see if something turns up. Now look here," and Jasmyn put his arm in Savile's, "if it's something of that sort, and it's merely some-a-cash for capital that's required, let him look upon me as his banker. Tell him that, Savile. You'll know how."

"No, I shan't know how, Mr. Vere. He wouldn't like it. And then, besides, you see he doesn't know anything about it-I mean about my coming to you like this. Sylvia doesn't, either. Of course, old Woodville would be very pleased if I went and told him he'd got some capital appointment. He'd soon forgive me then for my cheek in interfering. But not what you've just said. Awfully jolly of you, though."

Jasmyn took a few steps back and stared at Savile.

"You mean to say you've undertaken this all on your own? Why, you're a marvel! Haven't you really mentioned it to a soul?"

"As a matter of fact," said Savile scrupulously, "I did just mention something about it-not your name or theirs, of course-to the girl I'm engaged to. But she doesn't know any more about it than she did before."

Jasmyn exploded with laughter.

"Savile, you'll go far. So much prudence combined with so much pluck-why you'll end by being Prime Minister!"

"I shouldn't care for that. Besides, I can't," Savile said apologetically, "I'm going into the army."

"And what about your engagement?"

"Nothing about it. It won't make any difference."

"To whom?"

"Why, to me-or to her either-so far as that goes."

"Tell me why you're so keen about Woodville, and what you're taking all this trouble for, old boy?"

"Why, for my sister, of course!" Savile answered, surprised.

"You're a dear good boy. And you shan't be disappointed. As soon as I hear of anything I'll let you know, and we'll talk it over again. When do you go back to school?"

"In a few days," said Savile, getting up to go.

"Poor chap! Well, well, we'll see what happens. Must you go now? Cheer up. It's sure to come all right. And I say, Savile--"


"Remember me kindly to your fiancée, won't you?"

"Of course I shan't! She's never heard of you. Her mother doesn't let her read the papers, not even the Morning Post. And besides, it's quite a private engagement."

"You can trust me, Savile. Just tell me one thing," Jasmyn said, with an inquisitive leer. "Is she dark or fair?"

"Not very," said Savile.

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