As they neared London, Selingman awoke, smiled blandly upon them, brushed the cigar ash from his coat and waistcoat, put on his hat and looked about him with interest.
“So we are arrived,” he said presently. “The Houses of Parliament, eh? I enter with you, Maraton. You find me a corner where I sleep while the others speak, and wake at the sound of your voice. Afterwards, late to-night, we shall go to Maxendorf.”
It happened to be a quiet evening in the House, and Maraton and Selingman dined together at a little before eight o’clock. Selingman’s personality was too unusual to escape attention, and as his identity became known, a good many passers-by looked at them curiously. Some one sent word to Mr. Foley of their presence, and very soon he came in and joined them.
“Six years ago this month, Mr. Selingman,” the Prime Minister reminded him, “we met at Madame Hermene’s in Paris. You were often there in those days.”
Selingman nodded vigorously.
“I remember it perfectly,” he said—“perfectly. It was a wonderful evening. An English Cabinet Minister, the President of France, Coquelin, Rostand, and I myself were there. A clever woman! She knew how to attract. In England there is nothing of the sort, eh?”
“Nothing,” Mr. Foley admitted. “I am going to beg you both to come on to me to-night. My niece is receiving a few friends. But I can promise you nothing of the same class of attraction, Mr. Selingman.”
“We cannot come,” Selingman declared, without hesitation. “I take my friend Maraton somewhere. As we sit here, Mr. Foley, we have spoken of politics. You are a great man. If any one can lift your country from the rut along which she is travelling, you will do it. A Unionist Prime Minister and you hold out the hand to Maraton! But what foresight! What acumen! You see beyond the thunder-clouds the things that we have seen. Not only do you see them, but you have the courage to follow your convictions. What a mess you are making of Parties!”
Mr. Foley smiled.
“Ah, well, you see,” he said, “I am no politician. It is the one claim I have upon posterity that I am the first non-politician who ever became Prime Minister.”
“Excellent! Excellent!” Selingman murmured.
“Maraton, alas!” Mr. Foley continued, “is only half a convert. As yet he wears his yoke heavily.”
“A queer place for him,” Selingman declared. “I looked down and saw him there this evening. I listened to the dozen words he spoke. He seemed to me rather like a lawyer, who, having a dull case, says what he has to say and sits down. Does he do any real good here, Mr. Foley?”
“It is from these walls,” the Prime Minister reminded him, “that the laws of the country are framed.”
Selingman shook his head slowly.
“Academically correct,” he admitted, “and yet, walls of brick and stone may crumble and split. The laws which endure come into being through the power of the people.”