“When one considers,” Burton remarked, “the number of people in high positions who might have discovered these beans and profited by them, it does rather appear as though they had been wasted upon an auctioneer and an auctioneer’s clerk who have to get their livings.”
“I entirely agree with you,” Mr. Waddington assented. “I must admit that in some respects I feel happier and life seems a much more interesting place. Yet I can’t altogether escape from certain apprehensions as regards the future.”
“If you take my advice,” Burton said firmly, “you’ll continue the business exactly as you are doing at present.”
“I have no idea of abandoning it,” Mr. Waddington replied. “The trouble is, how long will it be before it abandons me?”
“I have a theory of my own as to that,” Burton declared. “We will not talk about it at present—simply wait and see.”
Mr. Waddington paid the bill.
“Meanwhile,” he said, “you had better get down to Garden Green as quickly as you can. You will excuse me if I hurry off? It is almost time to start the sale again.”
Burton followed his host into the street. The sun was shining, and a breath of perfume from the roses in a woman’s gown assailed him, as she passed by on the threshold to enter the restaurant. He stood quite still for a moment. He had succeeded in his object, he had acquired the beans which were to restore to him his domestic life, and in place of any sense of satisfaction he was conscious of an intense sense of depression. What magic, after all, could change Ellen! He forgot for one moment the gulf across which he had so miraculously passed. He thought of himself as he was now, and of Ellen as she had been. The memory of that visit to Garden Green seemed suddenly like a nightmare. The memory of the train, underground for part of the way, with its stuffy odors, made him shiver. The hot, dusty, unmade street, with its hideous rows of stuccoed villas, loomed before his eyes and confirmed his swiftly born disinclination to taking at once this final and ominous step. Something all the time seemed to be drawing him in another direction, the faint magic of a fragrant memory—a dream, was it—that he had carried with him unconsciously through a wilderness of empty days? He hesitated, and finally climbed up on to the garden seat of an omnibus on its way to Victoria.
THE LAND OF ENCHANTMENT
“I do not think,” the girl with the blue eyes said, diffidently, “that I gave you permission to sit down here.”
“I do not believe,” Burton admitted, “that I asked for it. Still, having just saved your life—”
“Saved my life!”
“Without a doubt,” Burton insisted, firmly. She laughed in his face. When she laughed, she was good to look upon. She had firm white teeth, light brown hair which fell in a sort of fringe about her forehead, and eyes which could be dreamy but were more often humorous. She was not tall and she was inclined to be slight, but her figure was lithe, full of beautiful spring and reach.