“Well,” said Mr. Alloyd, curtly, with a sardonic smile. “They’ve telephoned me all about it. I’ve seen Mr. Wrissell. Just my luck! So you’re the man! He pointed you out to me this morning. My design for that church would have knocked the West End! Of course Mr. Wrissell will pay me compensation, but that’s not the same thing. I wanted the advertisement of the building.... Just my luck! Have a drink, will you?”
Edward Henry ultimately went with the plaintive Mr. Alloyd to his rooms in Adelphi Terrace. He quitted those rooms at something after two o’clock in the morning. He had practically given Mr. Alloyd a definite commission to design the Regent Theatre. Already he was practically the proprietor of a first-class theatre in the West End of London!
“I wonder whether Master Seven Sachs could have bettered my day’s work to-day!” he reflected as he got into a taxi-cab. He had dismissed his electric brougham earlier in the evening. “I doubt if even Master Seven Sachs himself wouldn’t be proud of my little scheme in Eaton Square!” said he.... “Wilkins’s Hotel, please, driver.”
On a morning in spring Edward Henry got out of an express at Euston which had come, not from the Five Towns, but from Birmingham. Having on the previous day been called to Birmingham on local and profitable business, he had found it convenient to spend the night there and telegraph home that London had summoned him. It was in this unostentatious, this half-furtive fashion, that his visits to London now usually occurred. Not that he was afraid of his wife! Not that he was afraid even of his mother! Oh, no! He was merely rather afraid of himself—of his own opinion concerning the metropolitan, non-local, speculative and perhaps unprofitable business to which he was committed. The fact was that he could scarcely look his women in the face when he mentioned London. He spoke vaguely of “real estate” enterprise, and left it at that. The women made no inquiries; they too left it at that. Nevertheless ...!
The episode of Wilkins’s was buried, but it was imperfectly buried. The Five Towns definitely knew that he had stayed at Wilkins’s for a bet, and that Brindley had discharged the bet. And rumours of his valet, his electric brougham, his theatrical supper-parties, had mysteriously hung in the streets of the Five Towns like a strange vapour. Wisps of the strange vapour had conceivably entered the precincts of his home, but nobody ever referred to them; nobody ever sniffed apprehensively nor asked anybody else whether there was not a smell of fire. The discreetness of the silence was disconcerting. Happily his relations with that angel his wife were excellent. She had carried angelicism so far as not to insist on the destruction of Carlo; and she had actually applauded, while sticking to her white apron, the sudden and startling extravagances of his toilette.