Edward Henry’s thoughts dwelt for a few moments upon the late Lord Woldo’s picturesque and far-resounding marriage.
“Can you give me Lady Woldo’s address?”
“I can’t,” said Mr. Slosson, after an instant’s hesitation.
“You mean you won’t!”
Mr. Slosson pursed his lips.
“Well, you can do the other thing!” said Edward Henry, insolent to the last.
As he left the premises he found Mr. Rollo Wrissell, and his own new acquaintance, Mr. Alloyd, the architect, chatting in the portico. Mr. Wrissell was calm, bland and attentive; Mr. Alloyd was eager, excited and deferential.
Edward Henry caught the words “Russian Ballet.” He reflected upon an abstract question oddly disconnected with the violent welter of his sensations: “Can a man be a good practical architect who isn’t able to sleep because he’s seen a Russian Ballet?”
The alert chauffeur of the electric brougham, who had an excellent idea of effect, brought the admirable vehicle to the kerb exactly in front of Edward Henry as Edward Henry reached the edge of the pavement. Ejaculating a brief command, Edward Henry disappeared within the vehicle and was whirled away in a style whose perfection no scion of a governing family could have bettered.
The next scene in the exciting drama of Edward Henry’s existence that day took place in a building as huge as Wilkins’s itself. As the brougham halted at its portals an old and medalled man rushed forth, touched his cap, and assisted Edward Henry to alight. Within the groined and echoing hall of the establishment a young boy sprang out and, with every circumstance of deference, took Edward Henry’s hat and stick. Edward Henry then walked a few steps to a lift, and said “smoking-room” to another menial, who bowed humbly before him, and at the proper moment bowed him out of the lift. Edward Henry, crossing a marble floor, next entered an enormous marble apartment chiefly populated by easy-chairs and tables. He sat down to a table and fiercely rang a bell which reposed thereon. Several of her menials simultaneously appeared out of invisibility, and one of them hurried obsequiously towards him.
“Bring me a glass of water and a peerage,” said Edward Henry.
“I beg pardon, sir. A glass of water and—”
“A peerage. P double e, r, a, g, e.”
“I beg your pardon, sir. I didn’t catch. Which peerage, sir? We have several.”
“All of them.”
In a hundred seconds, the last menial having thanked him for kindly taking the glass and the pile of books, Edward Henry was sipping water and studying peerages. In two hundred seconds he was off again. A menial opened the swing-doors of the smoking-room for him and bowed. The menial of the lift bowed, wafted him downwards and bowed. The infant menial produced his hat and stick and bowed. The old and medalled menial summoned his brougham with a frown at the chauffeur and a smile at Edward Henry, bowed, opened the door of the brougham, helped Edward Henry in, bowed, and shut the door.