Lanley didn’t answer, but presently went out in silence. He was experiencing the extreme loneliness that follows being more royalist than the king.
On Mondays and Thursdays, the only days Mr. Lanley went down-town, he expected to have the corner table at the restaurant where he always lunched and where, on leaving Farron’s office, he went. He had barely finished ordering luncheon—oyster stew, cold tongue, salad, and a bottle of Rhine wine—when, looking up, he saw Wilsey was approaching him, beaming.
“Haryer, Wilsey?” he said, without cordiality.
Wilsey, it fortunately appeared, had already had his midday meal, and had only a moment or two to give to sociability.
“Haven’t seen you since that delightful evening,” he murmured. “I hope Mrs. Baxter got my card.” He mentioned his card as if it had been a gift, not munificent, but not negligible, either.
“Suppose she got it if you left it,” said Mr. Lanley, who had heard her comment on it. “My man’s pretty good at that sort of thing.”
“Ah, how rare they are getting!” said Wilsey, with a sigh—“good servants. Upon my word, Lanley, I’m almost ready to go.”
“Because you can’t get good servants?” said his friend, who was drumming on the table and looking blankly about.
“Because all the old order is passing, all the standards and backgrounds that I value. I don’t think I’m a snob—”
“Of course you’re a snob, Wilsey.”
Mr. Wilsey smiled temperately.
“What do you mean by the word?”
It was a question about which Lanley had been thinking, and he answered:
“I mean a person who values himself for qualities that have no moral, financial, or intellectual value whatsoever. You, for instance, Wilsey, value yourself not because you are a pretty good lawyer, but because your great-grandfather signed the Declaration.”
A shade of slight embarrassment crossed the lawyer’s face.
“I own,” he said, “that I value birth, but so do you, Lanley. You attach importance to being a New York Lanley.”
“I do,” answered Lanley; “but I have sense enough to be ashamed of doing so. You’re proud of being proud of your old Signer.”
“As a matter of fact,” Mr. Wilsey remarked slowly, “Josiah Wilsey did not sign the Declaration.”
“What!” cried Lanley. “You’ve always told me he did.”
Wilsey shook his head gently, as one who went about correcting errors.
“No. What I said was that I feel no moral doubt he would have signed it if an attack of illness—”
Lanley gave a short roar.
“That’s just like you, Wilsey. You wouldn’t have signed it, either. You would have said that while in cordial sympathy with the ideas set forth, you would not care to put your name to a document that might give pain to a monarch who, though not as liberal as some of us could wish, was yet—”