She glanced at Mr. Seven Sachs.
“Have I, Mr. Sachs?”
And Mr. Sachs, after an instant’s hesitation, bowed in assent.
“Mr. Sachs is not exactly going into the speculation, but he is lending us money on the security of our interests. That’s the way to put it, isn’t it, Mr. Sachs?”
Mr. Sachs once more bowed.
And Edward Henry exclaimed:
“Now I really do see!”
He gave one glance across the table at Mr. Seven Sachs, as who should say: “And have you too allowed yourself to be dragged into this affair? I really thought you were cleverer. Don’t you agree with me that we’re both fools of the most arrant description?” And under that brief glance Mr. Seven Sachs’s calm deserted him as it had never deserted him on the stage, where for over fifteen hundred nights he had withstood the menace of revolvers, poison, and female treachery through three hours and four acts without a single moment of agitation.
Apparently Miss Rose Euclid could exercise a siren’s charm upon nearly all sorts of men. But Edward Henry knew one sort of men upon whom she could not exercise it—namely, the sort of men who are born and bred in the Five Towns. His instinctive belief in the Five Towns as the sole cradle of hard practical common sense was never stronger than just now. You might by wiles get the better of London and America, but not of the Five Towns. If Rose Euclid were to go around and about the Five Towns trying to do the siren business, she would pretty soon discover that she was up against something rather special in the way of human nature!
Why, the probability was that these three—Rose Euclid (only a few hours since a glorious name and legend to him), Carlo Trent, and Mr. Marrier—could not at that moment produce even ten pounds between them!... And Marrier offering to lay fivers!... He scornfully pitied them. And he was not altogether without pity for Seven Sachs, who had doubtless succeeded in life by sheer accident and knew no more than an infant what to do with his too-easily-earned money.
“Well,” said Edward Henry, “shall I tell you what I’ve decided?”
“Please do!” Rose Euclid entreated him.
“I’ve decided to make you a present of my half of the option.”
“But aren’t you going in with us?” exclaimed Rose, horror-struck.
“But Mr. Bryany told us positively you were! He said it was all arranged!”
“Mr. Bryany ought to be more careful,” said Edward Henry. “If he doesn’t mind he’ll be telling a downright lie some day.”
“But you bought half the option!”
“Well,” said Edward Henry, reasoning. “What is an option? What does it mean? It means you are free to take something or leave it. I’m leaving it.”
“But why?” demanded Mr. Marrier, gloomier.
Carlo Trent played with his eyeglasses and said not a word.