“Then is the ancient race of the Haystouns to disappear from the earth?”
“Oh, there are women fit for him, sure enough, but you won’t find them at every garden party. Why, to find the proper woman would be the making of the man, and I should never have another doubt about him. But I am afraid. He’s a deal too kindly and good-natured, and he’d marry a girl to-morrow merely to please her. And then some day quite casually he would come across the woman who was meant by Providence for him, and there would be the devil to pay and the ruin of one good man. I don’t mean that he’d make a fool of himself or anything of that sort, for he’s not a cad; but in the middle of his pleasant domesticity he would get a glimpse of what he might have been, and those glimpses are not forgotten.”
“Why, George, you are getting dithyrambic,” said Arthur, still smiling, but with a new vague respect in his heart.
“For you cannot harness the wind or tie—tie the bonds of the wild ass,” said George, with an air of quotation. “At any rate, we’re going to look after him. He is a good chap and I’ve got to see him through.”
For Mr. Winterham, who was very much like other men, whose language was free, and who respected few things indeed in the world, had unfailing tenderness for two beings-his sister and his friend.
The two young men rose, yawned, and strolled out into the hall. They scanned carelessly the telegram boards. Arthur pointed a finger to a message typed in a corner.
“That will make a good deal of difference to Wratislaw.”
George read: “The death is announced, at his residence in Hampshire, of Earl Beauregard. His lordship had reached the age of eighty-five, and had been long in weak health. He is succeeded by his son the Right Hon. Lord Malham, the present Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.”
“It means that if Wratislaw’s party get back with a majority after August, and if Wratislaw gets the under-secretaryship as most people expect, then, with his chief in the Lords, he will be rather an important figure in the Commons.”
“And I suppose his work will be pretty lively,” said George. He had been reading some of the other telegrams, which were, as a rule, hysterical messages by way of foreign capitals, telling of Russian preparations in the East.
“Oh, lively, yes. But I’ve confidence in Tommy. I wish the Fate which decides men’s politics had sent him to our side. He knows more about the thing than any one else, and he knows his own mind, which is rare enough. But it’s too hot for serious talk. I suppose my seat is safe enough in August, but I don’t relish the prospect of a three weeks’ fight. Wratislaw, lucky man, will not be opposed. I suppose he’ll come up and help Lewis to make hay of Stock’s chances. It’s a confounded shame. I shall go and talk for him.”
On the steps of the club both men halted, and looked up and down the sultry white street. The bills of the evening papers were plastered in a row on the pavement, and the glaring pink and green still further increased the dazzle. After the cool darkness within each shaded his eyes and blinked.