“Gad!” said Mr. Morton; “what funny people you all are! And you really meant what you said?”
“Every word,” said the old man cheerfully.... “Well; our little plot’s over.”
“Why don’t you ask him to come and see you?”
“First,” said the old man, with the same unruffled cheerfulness, “he wouldn’t have come. We’ve muddled it. We’d much better have been straightforward. Secondly, he thinks me an old fool—as you do, only more so. No; we must set to work some other way now.... Tell me about Miss Deronnais: I showed you her letter?”
The other nodded, helping himself to cheese.
“I told her that I was at her service, of course; and I haven’t heard again. Sensible girl?”
“Very sensible, I should say.”
“Sort of girl that wouldn’t scream or faint in a crisis?”
“Exactly the opposite, I should say. But I’ve hardly seen her, you know.”
“Well, well.... And the mother?”
“No good at all,” said Mr. Morton.
“Then the girl’s the sheet anchor.... In love with him, do you know?”
“Lord! How d’you expect me to know that?”
The old man pondered in silence, seeming to assimilate the situation.
“He’s in a devil of a mess,” he said, with abrupt cheerfulness. “That man Vincent—”
“He’s the most dangerous of the lot. Just because he’s honest.”
“Good God!” broke in the other again suddenly. “Do all Catholics believe this rubbish?”
“My dear friend, of course they don’t. Not one in a thousand. I wish they did. That’s what’s the matter. But they laugh at it—laugh at it!"... His voice cracked into shrill falsetto.... “Laugh at hell-fire.... Is Sunday the day, did you say?”
“He told me the twenty-fifth.”
“And at that woman’s in Queen’s Gate, I suppose?”
“Expect so. He didn’t say. Or I forget.”
“I heard they were at their games there again,” said Mr. Cathcart with meditative geniality. “I’d like to blow up the stinking hole.”
Mr. Morton chuckled audibly.
“You’re the youngest man of your years I’ve ever come across,” he said. “No wonder you believe all that stuff. When are you going to grow up, Cathcart?”
The old man paid no attention at all.
“Well—that plot’s over,” he said again. “Now for Miss Deronnais. But we can’t stop this Sunday affair; that’s certain. Did he tell you anything about it? Materialization? Automatic—”
“Lord, I don’t know all that jargon....”
“My dear Morton, for a lawyer, you’re the worst witness I’ve ever—Well, I’m off. No more to be done today.”
* * * * *
The other sat on a few minutes over his pipe.
It seemed to him quite amazing that a sensible man like Cathcart could take such rubbish seriously. In every other department of life the solicitor was an eminently shrewd and sane man, with, moreover, a youthful kind of brisk humor that is perhaps the surest symptom of sanity that it is possible to have.