‘It is difficult,’ continued Sir Neville, almost as though talking to himself. ‘These things all seem to come at once. I have been most upset lately, most upset. Believe me, Charles, when I say there is nothing worse than finding out that you have been deceived in someone. But lately I have begun to feel that I am surrounded by liars and schemers.’
Was he talking about me? We were hardly close friends, so it seemed unlikely. My mind leapt involuntarily to the MacMurrays, who appeared, even on my short acquaintance, potentially to fit the description. Was he referring to them? In that case, why speak to me about it?
‘What do you mean?’ I asked.
At the sound of my words, he seemed to emerge from his reverie.
‘I beg your pardon, Charles. Do forgive my ramblings. I am old-fashioned and have never been able to accustom myself to the modern ways and manners. Rosamund is always telling me that I am stuck in the past and I dare say she’s right. Now, about these prospecting rights.’ Sir Neville began rummaging through some papers in his desk drawer. ‘I have something to show you that may surprise you. Indeed it surprised me very much, and I should like to know what you have to say about it as I hardly know whether to believe it.’
We moved on to other topics.
A few minutes afterwards the bell rang, summoning us to dinner, for which I was rather thankful. As I followed Sir Neville along the passage towards the hall, I thought back to our conversation. As far as I had been able to judge in the short time I had been in the house, everybody seemed to be on perfectly amicable and easy terms and yet Sir Neville had spoken of liars and schemers. Whom could he have been referring to?