“I beg your pardon, sir, but are you Lord Stranleigh of Wychwood?”

His lordship paused on the upper steps, and drawled the one word “Yes.”

“My name is Peter Mackeller, and the Honorable John Hazel gave me a letter of introduction to you, saying I should probably catch you in at this hour. It seems he underestimated your energy, for you are already abroad.”

There was an undercurrent of resentment in the impatient tone Mackeller had used. He was manifestly impressed unfavorably by this modern representative of a very ancient family, but the purpose he had in view caused him to curb his dislike, although he had not been tactful enough to prevent a hint of it appearing in his words. If the other had gathered any impression of that hint, he was too perfectly trained to betray his knowledge, either in phrase or expression of countenance. The opinion of his fellows was a matter of complete indifference to him. A rather engaging smile stirred the silken mustache.

“Oh, Jack always underestimates my good qualities, so we won’t trouble about his note of introduction. Besides, a man cannot read a letter in the street, can he?”

“I see no reason against it,” replied the other sharply.

“Don’t you really? Well, I am going across to my club, and perhaps as we walk along together, you will be good enough to say why you wish to see me.”