'My introduction,' said Fairford, 'is contained in this letter. --(Delivering that of Maxwell.)--I am convinced that, under whatever name it may be your pleasure for the present to be known, it is into your hands, and yours only, that it should be delivered.'
Redgauntlet turned the letter in his hand--then read the contents then again looked upon the letter, and sternly observed, 'The seal of the letter has been broken. Was this the case, sir, when it was delivered into your hand?'
Fairford despised a falsehood as much as any man,--unless, perhaps, as Tom Turnpenny might have said, 'in the way of business.' He answered readily and firmly, 'The seal was whole when the letter was delivered to me by Mr. Maxwell of Summertrees.'
'And did you dare, sir, to break the seal of a letter addressed to me?' said Redgauntlet, not sorry, perhaps, to pick a quarrel upon a point foreign to the tenor of the epistle.
'I have never broken the seal of any letter committed to my charge,' said Alan; 'not from fear of those to whom such letter might be addressed, but from respect to myself.'
'That is well worded,' said Redgauntlet; 'and yet, young Mr. Counsellor, I doubt whether your delicacy prevented your reading my letter, or listening to the contents as read by some other person after it was opened.'
'I certainly did hear the contents read over,' said Fairford; 'and they were such as to surprise me a good deal.'
'Now that,' said Redgauntlet, 'I hold to be pretty much the same, IN FORO CONSCIENTIAE, as if you had broken the seal yourself. I shall hold myself excused from entering upon further discourse with a messenger so faithless; and you may thank yourself if your journey has been fruitless.'