“That’s rather a tall order,” Kelson murmured.
“A small one, you mean,” Curtis sneered, “you could put the whole of England twice over in California, and from what I’ve heard I don’t go much on London. I reckon it isn’t much bigger than San Francisco.”
“Still you wouldn’t mind being joint owner of it,” Hamar laughed.”
“No, perhaps not,” Curtis said rather dubiously. “I guess we could buy the crown and wear it in turn. Sam Westlake up at Meidler’s always used to say the Britishers would sell their souls if any one bid high enough. They think of nothing but money over there. When shall we go?”
“At the end of our week,” Hamar said, “that is to say on Wednesday—in three days’ time.”
“First class all the way, of course,” Curtis said, “I’ll see to the arrangements for the catering and berths.”
“All right!” Hamar laughed, as he filled three glasses with champagne. “Here, drink, you fellows, ’Long life, health and prosperity—to Hamar, Curtis and Kelson, the Modern Sorcery Company Ltd.’”
“Do you believe in dreams?” Gladys Martin inquired, as, fresh from a stroll in the garden, she joined her aunt, Miss Templeton, in the breakfast room at Pine Cottage.
“I believe in fairies,” Miss Templeton rejoined, smiling indulgently as she looked at the fair face beside her. “What was the dream, dearie?”
Gladys laughed a little mischievously. “I don’t quite know whether I ought to tell you,” she said. “It might shock you.”
“Perhaps I’m not so easily shocked as you imagine,” Miss Templeton replied. “What was it?”
“Well!” Gladys began, flinging both arms round her aunt’s neck and playing with the pleats in her blouse, “I dreamed that I was walking in the little wood at the end of the garden, and that the trees and flowers walked and talked with me. And we danced together—and, first of all, I had for my partner, a red rose—and then, an ash. They both made love to me, and squeezed my waist with their hot, fibrous hands. A poppy piped, a bramble played the concertina, and a lilac grew desperately jealous of me and tried to claw my hair. Then the dancing ceased, and I found myself in the midst of bluebells that shook their bells at me with loud trills of laughter. And out from among them, came a buttercup, pointing its yellow head at me. ‘See! see,’ it cried, ‘what Gladys is carrying behind her. Naughty Gladys!’ And trees and flowers—everything around me—shook with laughter. Then I grew hot and cold all over, and did not know which way to look for my confusion, till a willow, having compassion on me said, ’Take no notice of them! They don’t know any better.’
“I begged him to explain to me why they were so amused, and he grew very embarrassed and uncomfortable, and stammered—oh! so funnily, ’Well if you really wish to know—it’s a bud, a baby white rose, and it’s clinging to your dress.’