“Well,” said Mr. Slosson, lifting his chin, and still puffing, “it would be extremely interesting to hear his story at any rate. I was just telling Mr. Wrissell about it. Come this way, sir. I’ve heard some strange things in my time, but—” He stopped. “Please follow me, sir,” he ordained.
“I’m dashed if I’ll follow you!” Edward Henry desired to say, but he had not the courage to say it. And because he was angry with himself he determined to make matters as unpleasant as possible for the innocent Mr. Slosson, who was so used to bullying, and so well paid for bullying that really no blame could be apportioned to him. It would have been as reasonable to censure an ordinary person for breathing as to censure Mr. Slosson for bullying. And so Edward Henry was steeling himself: “I’ll do him in the eye for that, even if it costs me every cent I’ve got.” (A statement characterized by poetical license!)
Mr. Slosson, senior, heard Edward Henry’s story, but seemingly did not find it quite as interesting as he had prophesied it would be. When Edward Henry had finished the old man drummed on an enormous table, and said:
“Yes, yes. And then?” His manner was far less bullying than in the room of Mr. Vulto.
“It’s your turn now, Mr. Slosson,” said Edward Henry.
“My turn? How?”
“To go on with the story.” He glanced at the clock. “I’ve brought it up to date—11.15 o’clock this morning anno domini.” And as Mr. Slosson continued to drum on the table and to look out of the window, Edward Henry also drummed on the table and looked out of the window.
The chamber of the senior partner was a very different matter from Mr. Vulto’s. It was immense. It was not disfigured by japanned boxes inartistically lettered in white, as are most lawyer’s offices. Indeed in aspect it resembled one of the cosier rooms in a small and decaying but still comfortable club. It had easy chairs and cigar boxes. Moreover, the sun got into it, and there was a view of the comic yet stately Victorian Gothic of the Law Courts. The sun enheartened Edward Henry. And he felt secure in an unimpugnable suit of clothes; in the shape of his collar, the colour of his necktie, the style of his creaseless boots; and in the protuberance of his pocket-book in his pocket.
As Mr. Slosson had failed to notice the competition of his drumming, he drummed still louder. Whereupon Mr. Slosson stopped drumming. Edward Henry gazed amiably around. Right at the back of the room—before a back-window that gave on the whitewashed wall—a man was rapidly putting his signature to a number of papers. But Mr. Slosson had ignored the existence of this man, treating him apparently as a figment of the disordered brain or as an optical illusion.
“I’ve nothing to say,” said Mr. Slosson.
“Or to do?”
“Or to do.”