The conference between Mr. Foley and Maraton was brief enough. The former arrived a few moments after his niece’s departure.
“I have come,” Maraton announced, as they shook hands, “to accept your invitation to Lyndwood. You understand, I am sure, that that commits me to nothing?”
Mr. Foley’s expression was one of intense relief.
“Naturally,” he replied. “I quite understand that. I am delighted to think that you are coming at all. May I ask whether you have conferred with your friends about the matter?”
Maraton shook his head.
“I have not even mentioned it to them. I met what I understand to be a committee of the Labour Party this morning—a Mr. Dale, Abraham Weavel, Culvain, Samuel Borden and David Ross. Those were the names so far as I can remember. I did not mention my proposed visit to you at all. There seemed to me to be no necessity. I am subject to no one here.”
Mr. Foley smiled.
“They won’t like it,” he declared frankly.
“Their liking or disliking it will not affect the situation in the least,” Maraton assured him. “I shall come, without a doubt. It will interest me to hear what you have to say, although unfortunately I cannot hold out the slightest hope—”
“That is entirely understood,” Mr. Foley interrupted. “Now how will you come? Lyndwood Park is just sixty miles from London. To-day is Friday, isn’t it? I shall motor down there sometime to-morrow. Why won’t you come down with me?”
Maraton shook his head.
“If you will excuse me,” he said, “I will not fix any time definitely. I have a good deal of correspondence still to attend to, and there is one little matter which might keep me in town till the afternoon.”
“Let me send a car up for you,” Mr. Foley suggested.
“Thank you,” Maraton replied, “I have already hired one for a time.”
“Then come just at what time suits you,” Mr. Foley begged,—“the sooner the better, of course. Apart from that, I shall be about the place all day.”
In Buckingham Gate, Maraton came slowly to a standstill. The coach which he had seen in the Park an hour ago was drawn up in front of a large hotel. The young man who was driving it had just come down the steps and was drawing on his gloves. They met almost face to face.
“Am I to speak to you?” the young man asked.
“You had better,” Maraton assented. “Tell me what you are doing here?”
“I was bored with Paris,” the young man answered. “My friends were all coming here. I had no idea that we were likely to meet.”
Maraton looked at him thoughtfully. As they stood face to face at that moment, there was a certain strange likeness between them, a likeness of the husk only.
“I do not wish to interfere with your movements,” Maraton said calmly. “Where you are is nothing to me. I proposed that you should remain away from London simply because I fancied that it would be easier for you to observe the conditions which exist between us. So long as you remember them, however, your whereabouts are indifferent to me.”