“To-night,” he announced, “with Ernshaw’s help I start for the north. In a few hours we shall have freed the railway lines. I leave the Press to you, Mr. Foley. I shall go on to the mines.”
“And I?” Lady Elisabeth asked. “What is my share? Is there nothing I can do?”
Their eyes met for one long moment.
“When I return,” he said quietly, “I will tell you.”
From town to town, travelling for the most part on the platform of an engine, Maraton sped on his splendid mission. It was Ernshaw himself who drove, with the help of an assistant, but as they passed from place to place the veto was lifted. The men in some districts were a little querulous, but at Maraton’s coming they were subdued. It was peace, a peace how splendid they were soon to know. By mid-day, trains laden with coal were rushing to several of the Channel ports. Maraton found his task with the miners more difficult, and yet in a way his triumph here was still more complete. He travelled down the backbone of England, preaching peace where war had reigned, promising great things in the name of the new Government. Although he had been absent barely forty-eight hours, it was a new London into which he travelled on his return. The streets were crowded once more with taxicabs, the evening papers were being sold, the shops were all open, the policemen were once more in the streets. Selingman, who had scarcely once left Maraton’s side, gazed about him with wonder.
“It is a miracle, this,” he declared. “There is no aftermath.”
“The people are waiting,” Maraton said. “We have given them serious pledges. Their day is to come.”
“You believe that Foley will keep his word?” Selingman asked.
“I know that he will,” Maraton replied. “As soon as the Bills are drafted, he will go to the country. It will be a new Party—the National Party. Stay and see it, Selingman—a new era in the politics of the world, a very wonderful era. The country is going to be governed for the people that are worth while.”
“If one could but live long enough!” Selingman sighed. “All over the universe it comes. Where was it one read of footsteps that sounded amongst the hills like footsteps upon wool? In the night-watches you can hear those footsteps. The world trembles with them.”
“And after all,” Maraton continued, “the sun of the world’s happiness is made up of the happiness of units. Presently we shall have time to think of those things.”
“It is true,” Selingman said disconsolately. “I find myself rejoicing in the good which is coming to humanity and forgetting personal sorrows. There is that wonderful, that adorable secretary of your—Julia. What should you say to me, my friend Maraton, if I were indeed to rob you of her? For once I am in earnest.”
Maraton started for a moment. The idea at first was ludicrous.