"I will withdraw, sir," said Terence.
But Wellington detained him. "Since Dom Miguel asked for you, you had better remain, perhaps."
"It is the adjutant-general Dom Miguel desires to see, and I am adjutant-general no longer."
"Still, the matter may concern you. I have a notion that it may be concerned with the death of Count Samoval, since I have acquainted the Council of Regency with the treason practised by the Count. You had better remain."
Gloomy and downcast, Sir Terence remained as he was bidden.
The sleek and supple Secretary of State was ushered in. He came forward quickly, clicked his heels together and bowed to the three men present.
"Sirs, your obedient servant," he announced himself, with a courtliness almost out of fashion, speaking in his extraordinarily fluent English. His sallow countenance was extremely grave. He seemed even a little ill at ease.
"I am fortunate to find you here, my lord. The matter upon which I seek your adjutant-general is of considerable gravity—so much that of himself he might be unable to resolve it. I feared you might already have departed for the north."
"Since you suggest that my presence may be of service to you, I am happy that circumstances should have delayed my departure," was his lordship's courteous answer. "A chair, Dom Miguel."
Dom Miguel Forjas accepted the proffered chair, whilst Wellington seated himself at Sir Terence's desk. Sir Terence himself remained standing with his shoulders to the overmantel, whence he faced them both as well as Grant, who, according to his self-effacing habit, remained in the background by the window.
"I have sought you," began Dom Miguel, stroking his square chin, "on a matter concerned with the late Count Samoval, immediately upon hearing that the court-martial pronounced the acquittal of Captain Tremayne."