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HOME > Classical Novels > Red Money > CHAPTER XIII. A FRIEND IN NEED.
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 It was natural that Lambert should talk of having Silver arrested, as in the first flush of indignation at his audacious attempt to , this appeared the most reasonable thing to do. But when Agnes went back to The , and the sick man was left alone to struggle through a long and weary night, the reaction suggested a more cautious with the matter. Silver was a venomous little , and if brought before a would probably produce the letter which he offered for sale at so ridiculous a price. If this was made public, Agnes would find herself in an extremely unpleasant position. Certainly the letter was forged, but that would not be easy to prove. And even if it were proved and Agnes cleared her character, the necessary scandal connected with the of such a defence would be both and painful. In wishing to silence Silver, and yet avoid the interference of the police, Lambert found himself on the horns of a .  
Having readjusted the situation in his own mind, Lambert next day wrote a letter to Agnes, setting his objections to drastic measures. He informed her—not quite truthfully—that he hoped to be on his feet in twenty-four hours, and then would personally attend to the matter, although he could not say as yet what he intended to do. But five out of the seven days of grace allowed by the yet remained, and much could be done in that time. "Return to town and attend to your own and to your brother's affairs as usual," concluded the letter. "All matters connected with Silver can be left in my hands, and should he attempt to see you in the meantime, refer him to me." The epistle ended with the intimation that Agnes was not to worry, as the writer would take the whole burden on his own shoulders. The widow felt more cheerful after this communication, and went back to her town house to act as her lover suggested. She had every belief in Lambert's to deal with the matter.
The young man was more doubtful, for he could not see how he was to begin this skein. The interview with Chaldea had proved , as she was plainly on the side of the enemy, and to apply to Silver for information as to his intentions would merely result in a repetition of what he had said to Lady Agnes. It only remained to lay the whole matter before Darby, and Lambert was half inclined to go to Wanbury for this purpose. He did not, however, undertake the journey, for two reasons. Firstly, he wished to avoid asking for official assistance until absolutely forced to do so; and , he was too ill to leave the cottage. The worry he felt regarding Agnes's position told on an already weakened frame, and the grew worse instead of better.
Finally, Lambert to risk a journey to the camp, which was not so very far distant, and interview Mother Cockleshell. The old lady had no great love for Chaldea, who her authority, and would not, therefore, be very disposed towards the girl. The young man believed, in some vague way, that Chaldea had originated the which had to do with the letter, and was carrying her underhand plans to a conclusion with the aid of Silver. Mother Cockleshell, who was very shrewd, might have learned or guessed the girl's , and would assuredly her aims if possible. Also the gypsy-queen would probably know a great deal about Pine in his character of Ishmael Hearne, since she had been acquainted with him intimately during the early part of his life. But, whatever she knew, or whatever she did not know, Lambert considered that it would be wise to her on his side, as the fact that Chaldea was one of the opposite party would make her fight like a wild cat. And as the whole affair had to do with the gypsies, and as Gentilla Stanley was a gypsy, it was just as well to apply for her assistance. Nevertheless, Lambert was quite in the dark, as to what assistance could be rendered.
In this way the young man made his plans, only to be by the weakness of his body. He could crawl out of bed and sit before the fire, but in spite of all his will-power, he could not crawl as far as the camp. Baffled in this way, he decided to send a note asking Mother Cockleshell to call on him, although he knew that if Chaldea learned about the visit—which she was almost certain to do—she would be placed on her guard. But this had to be risked, and Lambert, moreover, believed that the old woman was quite equal to dealing with the girl. However, Fate took the matter out of his hands, and before he could even write the invitation, a visitor arrived in the person of Miss Greeby, who suggested a way out of the difficulty, by offering her services. Matters came to a head within half an hour of her presenting herself in the .
Miss Greeby was quite her old breezy, masculine self, and her presence in the cottage was like a breath of moorland air blowing through the languid atmosphere of a hot-house. She was arrayed characteristically in a short-skirted, tailor-made gown of a brown and bound with brown leather, and wore in addition a man's cap, dog-skin gloves, and heavy laced-up boots fit to tramp miry country roads. With her fresh and red hair, and a large frame instinct with , she looked aggressively healthy, and Lambert with his failing life felt quite a weakling beside this magnificent goddess.
"Hallo, old fellow," cried Miss Greeby in her best man-to-man style, "feeling chippy? Why, you do look a , I must say. What's up?"
"The fever's up and I'm down," replied Lambert, who was glad to see her, if only to distract his painful thoughts. "It's only a touch of , my dear Clara. I shall be all right in a few days."
"You're hopeful, I must say, Lambert. What about a doctor?"
"I don't need one. Mrs. Tribb is nursing me."
"Coddling you," muttered Miss Greeby, planting herself manfully in an opposite chair and crossing her legs in a gentlemanly manner. "Fresh air and exercise, beefsteaks and tankards of beer are what you need. Defy Nature and you get the better of her. Kill or cure is my motto."
"As I have strong reasons to remain alive, I shan't adopt your , Dr. Greeby," said Lambert, dryly. "What are you doing in these parts? I thought you were shooting in Scotland."
"So I was," admitted the visitor, and laying her bludgeon—she still carried it—across her knee. "But I grew sick of the sport. Knocked over the birds too easy, Lambert, so there was no fun. The birds are getting as silly as the men."
"Well, women knock them over easy enough."
"That's what I mean," said Miss Greeby, vigorously. "It's a rotten world, this, unless one can get away into the wilds."
"Why don't you go there?"
"Well," Miss Greeby leaned forward with her elbows on her knees, and dandled the bludgeon with both hands. "I thought I'd like a change from the rough and ready. This case of Pine's rather puzzled me, and so I'm on the trail as a detective."
Lambert was rather startled. "That's out of your line, Clara."
Miss Greeby nodded. "Exactly, and so I'm indulging in the novelty. One must do something to entertain one's self, you know, Lambert. It struck me that the gypsies know a lot more about the matter than they chose to say, so I came down yesterday, and put up at the Garvington Arms in the village. Here I'm going to stay until I can get at the root of the matter."
"What root?"
"I wish to learn who murdered Pine, poor devil."
"Ah," Lambert smiled. "You wish to gain the reward."
"Not me. I've got more money than I know what to do with, as it is. Silver is more anxious to get the cash than I am."
"Silver! Have you seen him lately?"
"A couple of days ago," Miss Greeby informed him easily. "He's my secretary now, Lambert. Yes! The poor beast was chucked out of his comfortable billet by the death of Pine, and hearing that I wanted some one to write my letters and run my errands, and act like a tame cat generally, he to me. Since I knew him pretty well through Pine, I took him on. He's a cunning little fox, but all right when he's kept in order. And I find him pretty useful, although I've only had him as a secretary for a fortnight."
Lambert did not immediately reply. The news rather amazed him, as it had always been Miss Greeby's boast that she could manage her own business. It was queer that she should have changed her mind in this respect, although she was woman enough to exercise that very feminine . But the trend of Lambert's thoughts were in the direction of seeking aid from his visitor. He could not act himself because he was sick, and he knew that she was a capable person in dealing with difficulties. Also, simply for the sake of something to do she had become an amateur detective and was hunting for the trail of Pine's assassin. It seemed to Lambert that it would not be a bad idea to tell her of his troubles. She would, as he knew, be only too willing to assist, and in that readiness lay his . He did not wish, if possible, to lie under any obligation to Miss Greeby lest she should demand in payment that he should become her husband. And yet he believed that by this time she had overcome her desires in this direction. To make sure, he ventured on a few cautious questions.
"We're friends, aren't we, Clara?" he asked, after a long pause.
"Sure," said Miss Greeby, nodding . "Does it need putting into words?"
"I suppose not, but what I mean is that we are ." He used the word which he knew most appealed to her masculine affectations.
"Sure," said Miss Greeby again, and once more heartily. "Real, honest pals. I never believed in that stuff about the impossibility of a man and woman being pals unless there's love rubbish about the business. At one time, Lambert, I don't deny but what I had a feeling of that sort for you."
"And now?" questioned the young man with an uneasy smile.
"Now it's gone, or rather my love has become affection, and that's quite a different thing, old fellow. I want to see you happy, and you aren't now. I daresay you're still crying for the moon. Eh?" she looked at him sharply.
"You asked me that before when you came here," said Lambert, slowly. "And I refused to answer. I can answer now. The moon is quite beyond my reach, so I have dried my tears."
Miss Greeby, who was a cigarette, threw away the match and stared hard at his haggard face. "Well, I didn't expect to hear that, now we know how the moon—"
"Call things by their right name," interrupted Lambert, sharply. "Agnes is now a widow, if that's what you mean."
"It is, if you call Agnes a thing. Of course, you'll marry her since the barrier has been removed?"
"Meaning Pine? No! I'm not certain on that point. She is a rich widow and I'm a poor artist. In honor bound I can't allow her to lose her money by becoming my wife."
Miss Greeby stared at the fire. "I heard about that beastly will," she said, frowning. "Horribly unfair, I call it. Still, I believed that you loved the moon—well, then, Agnes, since you wish us to be plain—and would carry her off if you had the pluck."
"I have never been accused of not having pluck, Clara. But there's another thing to be considered, and that's honor."
"Oh, bosh!" cried Miss Greeby, with boyish . "You love her and she loves you, so why not marry?"
"I'm not worth paying ............
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