By the fifth day, a Friday, Mr. Carlyon began to feel a desire to see his little pupil again and sent her a message by his dark, silent servant. Would she not take tea with him that afternoon? So Halcyone came. She was very quiet and subdued and crept through her gap in the hedge without any leaps or bounds.
John Derringham was stretched the whole length of his long, lean limbs under the apple tree—her apple tree! This did not produce a favorable note.
Cheiron watched the meeting with inward amusement.
“This is my little friend Halcyone La Sarthe,” he said. “Halcyone, yonder Tityus in these latter days is known by the name of John Derringham—of Derringham in the County of Northampton. Make your bows to one another.”
Halcyone inclined her head with dignity, but Mr. Derringham only raised himself a little and said “Good afternoon.” He did not care for children, and was busy with his old master discussing other things.
“You will pour out the tea, Halcyone, for us as usual,” Cheiron said. “Demetrius will bring it in a minute.” And Halcyone sat down demurely upon the basket chair near the table and crossed her hands.
“I tell you I will not take their point of view,” John Derringham said, continuing the conversation he had been carrying on before Halcyone arrived. “Everything in England is spoilt by this pandering to the mediocrity. A man may not make a speech but he must choose his words so that uneducated clods can grasp his meaning, he cannot advocate an idea with success unless it can appeal to the lower middle classes. It is this subservience to them which has brought us to where we are. No ideals—no lofty ends—just a means to each one’s own hand. I will never pretend we are all equal, I will never appeal to anything but the highest in an audience. So they can throw me out if they will!” And he stretched out his long legs and clasped his hands under his head—so that to Halcyone he seemed seven foot tall.
“Tityus” she thought was a very apt name for him, and she wondered if he would jump if the vulture suddenly gave a gnaw at his liver!
“You are an idealist, John,” said Mr. Carlyon. “All this might have been of some use as a principle of propaganda before the franchise was so low, but now the mediocrity is our master—so of what use? If you talked so you would but preach to empty benches.”
“I will not do that—I will make them listen. My point is that everyone can rise if he wishes, but until he has done so in fact, there is no use in his pretending in words that he has. I would explain to them the reason of things. I could have agreed with the greatest Athenian democrats because their principle was one of sense. They had slaves to do the lowest offices who had no voice in public affairs, but here we let those who have no more education or comprehension than slaves have the same power as men who have spent their lives in studying the matter. It is all unjust, and no one has the courage to tell them to their faces they are unfitted for the task.”