“It is true that I have spent the week-end with Mr. Foley,” Maraton admitted. “I had thought, perhaps, to have reported to you to-day the substance of our conversation. I feel now, though,” he continued, “that it would be useless. You call yourselves Labour Members, and in your way you are no doubt excellent machines. I, too, call myself a Labour man, but we stand far apart in our ideas, in our methods. I think, Mr. Peter Dale and gentlemen, that we will go our own ways. We will fight for the people as seems best to us. I do not think that an alliance is possible.”
They stared at him, a little amazed.
“Look here, young man,” Peter Dale expostulated, “what’s it all about? What do you want from us? I spoke of a job as lecturer just now. If you’ve really got the gift of speaking that they say you have, that’ll bring you into Parliament in time, and I reckon you’ll settle down fast enough with the rest of us then. Until then, what is it you want? We are sensible men. We all know you can’t go spouting round the country for nothing, whether it’s for the people, or woman’s suffrage, or any old game. Open your mouth and let’s hear what you have to say.”
Maraton rose to his feet.
“I will, perhaps,” he said, “come to you with an offer a little later on. For the present I must be excused. I have an appointment which Mr. Henneford has arranged for me with Mr. Preston, Secretary of the Union here. There are a good many facts I need to make sure of before to-night.”
Mr. Dale moved his pipe to the other side of his mouth.
“That’s all very well for a tale,” he muttered, “but I’m not so sure about letting you go on to the platform at all to-night. We don’t want our people fed up with the wrong sort of stuff.”
“Mr. Dale,” he begged quietly, “listen.” They were all, for a moment, silent. Maraton opened the window. From outside came a low roar of voices from the packed crowds who were even now blocking the street.
“These are my masters, Mr. Dale,” Maraton said, “and I don’t think there’s any power you or your friends could make use of to-night, which will keep me from my appointment with them.”