She sprang lightly to her feet.
“Come,” she declared, “it is chilly out here to-night. We are all going back into the drawing-room. I am going to make you listen while I sing.”
Mr. Bomford looked dissatisfied. He was flushed with wine and he spoke a little thickly.
“If I could have five minutes—” he began.
Edith shook her head.
“I am much too cold,” she objected. “Besides, I want to hear Mr. Bunsome talk about the new discovery. Have you found a title for the food yet?”
She walked rapidly on with Burton. Mr. Bomford followed them.
“We have decided,” he said, “to call it Menatogen.”
Burton gave a little start of surprise as he entered Mr. Waddington’s office. Seated on the chair usually occupied by clients, was Ellen.
“My dear Burton,” Mr. Waddington exclaimed, with an air of some relief, “your arrival is most opportune! Your wife has just paid me a visit. We were discussing your probable whereabouts only a moment ago.”
“Rooms all shut up,” Ellen declared, “and not a word left behind nor nothing, and little Alfred come down with a messenger boy, in such a mess as never was!”
“I hope he arrived safely?” Burton inquired. “I found it necessary to send him home.”
“He arrived all right,” Ellen announced.
“You found a change in him?” Burton asked.
“If you mean about his finicking ways, I do find a change,” Ellen replied, “and a good job, too. He’s playing with the other boys again and using those silly books to shoot at with a catapult, which to my mind is a sight more reasonable than poring over them all the time. I never did see a man,” she continued, with a slow smile, “so taken aback as Mr. Denschem, when he came to take him to the museum yesterday. Little Alf wouldn’t have nothing to do with him at any price.”
“I am afraid,” he said politely, “that you may have been inconvenienced by not hearing from me on Saturday.”
“‘Inconvenienced’ is a good word,” Ellen remarked. “I’ve managed to pay my way till now, thank you. What I came up to know about is this!” she went on, producing a copy of the Daily Press from her reticule and smoothing it out on her knee.
Burton groaned. He looked anxiously at Mr. Waddington.
“Have you read it, sir?” he asked.
Mr. Waddington shook his head.
“I make it a rule,” he said, “to avoid the advertisement columns of all newspapers. These skilfully worded announcements only serve to remind us how a man may prostitute an aptitude, if not an art, for sheer purposes of gain. It is my theory, Mrs. Burton,” he went on, addressing her, “that no one has a right to use his peculiar capacities for the production of any sort of work which is in the least unworthy; which does not aim—you follow me, I am sure?—at the ideal.”