His servant brought in a card. Mannering glanced at it and frowned.
“The gentleman said that he would not keep you for more than a moment, sir,” the servant announced quietly, mindful of the half-sovereign which had been slipped into his hand.
Mannering still looked at the card doubtfully.
“You can show him up,” he said at last.
“Very good, sir!”
The man withdrew, and reappeared to usher in Sir Leslie Borrowdean. Mannering greeted him without offering his hand.
“You wished to see me, Sir Leslie?” he asked.
Borrowdean came slowly into the room. He closed the door behind him.
“I hope,” he said, “that you will not consider my presence an intrusion!”
“You have business with me, I presume,” Mannering answered, coldly. “Pray sit down.”
Borrowdean ignored the chair, towards which Mannering had motioned. He came and stood by the side of the table.
“Unless your memory, Mannering,” he said, with a hard little laugh, “is as short as the proverbial politician’s, you can scarcely be surprised at my visit.”
Mannering raised his eyebrows, and said nothing.
“I must confess,” Borrowdean continued, “that I scarcely expected to find it necessary for me to come here and remind you that it was I who am responsible for your reappearance in politics.”
“I am not likely,” Mannering said, slowly, “to forget your good offices in that respect.”
“I felt sure that you would not,” Borrowdean answered. “Yet you must not altogether blame me for my coming! I understand that the list of your proposed Cabinet is to be completed to-morrow afternoon, and as yet I have heard nothing from you.”
“Your information,” Mannering said, “is quite correct. In fact, my list is complete already. If your visit here is one of curiosity, I have no objection to gratify it. Here is a list of the names I have selected.”
He handed a sheet of paper to Borrowdean, who glanced it eagerly down. Afterwards he looked up and met Mannering’s calm gaze. There was an absolute silence for several seconds.
“My name,” Borrowdean said, hoarsely, “is not amongst these!”
“It really never occurred to me for a single second to place it there,” Mannering answered.
Borrowdean drew a little breath. He was deathly pale.
“You include Redford,” he said. “He is a more violent partizan than I have ever been. I have heard you say a dozen times that you disapprove of turning a man out of office directly he has got into the swing of it. Has any one any fault to find with me? I have done my duty, and done it thoroughly. I don’t know what your programme may be, but if Redford can accept it I am sure that I can.”
“Possibly,” Mannering answered. “I have this peculiarity, though. Call it a whim, if you like. I desire to see my Cabinet composed of honourable men.”