Mr. Bullsom had refreshed himself with whisky-and-water, and decided that pessimism was not a healthy state of mind.
“I tell you what it is, Brooks,” he said, more cheerfully. “We mustn’t be too previous in judging the fellow. Let’s write him civilly, and if nothing comes of it in a week or two, we will run up to London, you and me, eh? and just haul him over the coals.”
“You are right, Mr. Bullsom,” Brooks said. “There is nothing we can do for the present.”
“Please don’t talk any more horrid politics,” Selina begged. “We want Mr. Brooks to give us a lesson at billiards. Do you mind?”
Brooks rose at once.
“I shall be charmed!” he declared.
Mr. Bullsom rose also.
“Pooh, pooh!” he said. “Brooks and I will have a hundred up and you can watch us. That’ll be lesson enough for you.”
Selina made a little grimace, but they all left the room together. In the hall a housemaid was speaking at the telephone, and a moment afterwards she laid the receiver down and came towards them.
“It is a message for Mr. Brooks, sir, from the Queen’s Hotel. Lord Arranmore’s compliments, and the ladies from Enton are at the theatre this evening, and would be glad if Mr. Brooks would join them at the Queen’s Hotel for supper at eleven o’clock.”
Brooks hesitated, but Mr. Bullsom spoke up at once.
“Off you go, Brooks,” he said, firmly. “Don’t you go refusing an invitation like that. Lord Arranmore is a bit eccentric, they say, and he isn’t the sort of man to like refusals. You’ve just got time.”
“They had the message two hours ago, and have been trying everywhere to find Mr. Brooks,” the housemaid added.
Selina helped him on with his coat.
“Will you come another evening soon and play billiards with us?” she asked, dropping her voice a little.
“With pleasure,” Brooks answered. “Do you mind saying good-bye to your cousin for me? I am sorry not to see her again.”
A supper-party at the “Queen’s”
Brooks was shown into a private room at the Queen’s Hotel, and he certainly had no cause to complain of the warmth of his welcome. Lady Sybil, in fact, made room for him by her side, and he fancied that there was a gleam of reproach in her eyes as she looked up at him.
“Is Medchester really so large a place that one can get lost in it?” she asked. “Lord Arranmore has been sending messengers in every direction ever since we decided upon our little excursion.
“I telephoned to your office, sent a groom to your rooms and to the club, and at last we had given you up,” Lord Arranmore remarked.
“And I,” Sybil murmured, “was in a shocking bad temper.”
“It is very good of you all,” Brooks remarked, cheerfully. “I left the office rather early, and have been giving a sort of lecture to-night at the Secular Hall. Then I went up to have a game of billiards with Mr. Bullsom. Your telephone message found me there. You must remember that even if Medchester is not a very large place I am a very unimportant person.”