Leslie was restful; he didn’t bother one. He merely said, “We’ll dine to-night at Luigi’s.”
It was not until they had done so, and were having coffee outside, that Peter said, “We’ll have to leave Venice, of course, directly we can.”
“You too?” said Leslie. “You go with them?”
“I go with them,” said Peter. “Well, I can’t well stay here, can I. And we may as well stick together--a family party..... You see, I haven’t a notion what Hilary will do to live now. I can go into business of sorts. Hilary can’t; he’d hate it so. Hilary’s not business-like, you know. Nor is Peggy. I couldn’t trust them by themselves; they’d tumble into something and get broken. They need my common sense to sustain them.”
Leslie said, “What’s the matter with your own line of life, that you want to chuck it?”
Peter looked at him in surprise.
“It’s chucked me,” he said. “Violently—with a smash. You don’t suppose anyone will hire me again to buy their things for them? There’ll be something of a crab on the Margerison family in future. It’s going to be made very public, you know, this business; I gathered that. We shall be—rather notorious, in a very few days.”
Leslie said, after a moment, “I’ve hired you to buy my things for me. Are you going to chuck me?”
And Peter, leaning his forehead on his hand as if tired, returned beneath his breath, “Don’t be good to me, please, just now. And you must see I’ve got to chuck it all—all that side of things. We must do something quite new, Hilary and I. We—we’ve spoiled this.”
After a pause, Leslie said gently, afraid of blundering, “You stick together, you and your brother? You go through it together—all the way?”
Peter answered hopelessly, “All the way. We’re in it together, and we must get out together, as best we can,” and Leslie accepted that, and asked no further question.
THE LOSS OF A PROFESSION
Peter went back to the Palazzo Amadeo and said to Hilary, who was writing an article for “The Gem” in the saloon, “I wouldn’t go on with that, Hilary. It’s no use.”
The flatness of his voice, the pallor of his face, startled Hilary and Peggy.
Peggy said, “You’re tired to death, child. Take the big chair.”
Hilary said, “How do you mean, no use?”
And Peter told him. While he did so, he stood at the window, looking down at the canal between the green shutters that swung ajar, and did not look at Hilary’s face.
It was an impossible position for Hilary, so utterly impossible that it was no use trying to make the best of it; one could only look away, and get through it quickly.
Peter didn’t say much. He only said, “We’ve been found out. That man who came to you this afternoon was a spy sent by Cheriton. He reported the result of his interview with you, and Lord Evelyn knows all about everything. Cheriton suspected from the first, you see.... From what Lord Evelyn said, I gather he means to prosecute.... He is ... very angry indeed.... They all are....”