“I do not know that I wonder at all,” Lord Armley declared. “The result will be ruin.
“There is no such thing as permanent destruction,” Maraton objected. “The springs of human life are never crushed. Sometimes a generation must suffer that succeeding ones may be blest.”
“The question is,” Mr. Foley said, holding up his wine-glass, “how far we are justified in experiments concerning which nothing absolute can be known, experiments of so disastrous a nature.”
A servant entered and made a communication to Mr. Foley, who turned at once to Maraton.
“It is your secretary,” he announced, “who has arrived from London with some letters.”
Maraton at once followed the servant from the room. Mr. Foley, too, rose to his feet.
“In ten minutes or so,” he declared, “I shall follow you. We can have our chat quietly in the study.”
Maraton followed the butler across the hall and found himself ushered into a room at the back of the house—a room lined with books; with French windows, wide open, leading out on to the lawn; a room beautifully cool and odoriferous with the perfume of roses. A single lamp was burning upon a table; for the rest, the apartment seemed full of the soft blue twilight of the summer night. Maraton came to a standstill with an exclamation of surprise. A tall, very slim figure in plain dark clothes had turned from the French windows and was standing there now, her face turned towards him a little eagerly, a strange light upon her pale cheeks and in the eyes which seemed to shine at him almost feverishly out of the sensuous twilight.
“Julia!” Maraton exclaimed.
“Aaron was run over just as he was starting,” she explained quickly. “He is not hurt badly, but he wasn’t able to catch the train. He had an important letter from Manchester and one from the committee for you. We thought it best that I should bring them. I hope we decided rightly.”
She was standing out of the circle of the lamplight, in the shadows of the room. There was a queer nervousness about her manner, a strained anxiety in the way her eyes scarcely left his face, which puzzled him.
“It is very kind of you,” he said, as he took the letters. “Please sit down while I look at them.”
The first was dated from the House of Commons:
“Dear Mr. Maraton:
“At a committee meeting held this afternoon here, it was resolved that I should write to you to the following effect.