It is his quiet habit to walk across the park from the village in fine weather, to drop into this room as if he had never been out of it since he was last seen there, to request a servant to inform Sir Leicester that he is arrived in case he should be wanted, and to appear ten minutes before dinner in the shadow of the library-door. He sleeps in his turret with a complaining flag- staff over his head, and has some leads outside on which, any fine morning when he is down here, his black figure may be seen walking before breakfast like a larger species of rook.
Every day before dinner, my Lady looks for him in the dusk of the library, but he is not there. Every day at dinner, my Lady glances down the table for the vacant place that would be waiting to receive him if he had just arrived, but there is no vacant place. Every night my Lady casually asks her maid, "Is Mr. Tulkinghorn come?"
Every night the answer is, "No, my Lady, not yet."
One night, while having her hair undressed, my Lady loses herself in deep thought after this reply until she sees her own brooding face in the opposite glass, and a pair of black eyes curiously observing her.
"Be so good as to attend," says my Lady then, addressing the reflection of Hortense, "to your business. You can contemplate your beauty at another time."
"Pardon! It was your Ladyship's beauty."
"That," says my Lady, "you needn't contemplate at all."
At length, one afternoon a little before sunset, when the bright groups of figures which have for the last hour or two enlivened the Ghost's Walk are all dispersed and only Sir Leicester and my Lady remain upon the terrace, Mr. Tulkinghorn appears. He comes towards them at his usual methodical pace, which is never quickened, never slackened. He wears his usual expressionless mask--if it be a mask --and carries family secrets in every limb of his body and every crease of his dress. Whether his whole soul is devoted to the great or whether he yields them nothing beyond the services he sells is his personal secret. He keeps it, as he keeps the secrets of his clients; he is his own client in that matter, and will never betray himself.
"How do you do, Mr. Tulkinghorn?" says Sir Leicester, giving him his hand.
Mr. Tulkinghorn is quite well. Sir Leicester is quite well. My Lady is quite well. All highly satisfactory. The lawyer, with his hands behind him, walks at Sir Leicester's side along the terrace. My Lady walks upon the other side.
"We expected you before," says Sir Leicester. A gracious observation. As much as to say, "Mr. Tulkinghorn, we remember your existence when you are not here to remind us of it by your presence. We bestow a fragment of our minds upon you, sir, you see!"
Mr. Tulkinghorn, comprehending it, inclines his head and says he is much obliged.
"I should have come down sooner," he explains, "but that I have been much engaged with those matters in the several suits between yourself and Boythorn."
"A man of a very ill-regulated mind," observes Sir Leicester with severity. "An extremely dangerous person in any community. A man of a very low character of mind."
"He is obstinate," says Mr. Tulkinghorn.
"It is natural to such a man to be so," says Sir Leicester, looking most profoundly obstinate himself. "I am not at all surprised to hear it."
"The only question is," pursues the lawyer, "whether you will give up anything."
"No, sir," replies Sir Leicester. "Nothing. I give up?"
"I don't mean anything of importance. That, of course, I know you would not abandon. I mean any minor point."
"Mr. Tulkinghorn," returns Sir Leicester, "there can be no minor point between myself and Mr. Boythorn. If I go farther, and observe that I cannot readily conceive how ANY right of mine can be a minor point, I speak not so much in reference to myself as an individual as in reference to the family position I have it in charge to maintain."
Mr. Tulkinghorn inclines his head again. "I have now my instructions," he says. "Mr.