“Don’t ever let Mr. Maraton be Prime Minister!” Elisabeth begged. “He’s too iconoclastic.”
“And just now I was a Tory,” Maraton protested.
“It isn’t my fault that you are a study in contraries,” she laughed. “But then politicians are rather like that, aren’t they? I think really that they should be like surgeons, specialise all the time.”
“Come down to Ranelagh and play golf after luncheon,” Lord Carton suggested abruptly from across the table. “I’ve got my little racing car outside and I’ll take you down there like a rocket.”
“Thanks,” she answered, “I want particularly to stay in till four o’clock this afternoon. Besides, you can’t play golf, you know.”
“I don’t think Elisabeth has improved,” he remarked to her mother, turning deliberately away.
“And I am sure Jack’s left his heart in Central America,” Elisabeth declared. “He was always fond of dark-complexioned ladies. Mr. Maraton, have you been a great traveller?”
He shook his head.
“I have been in South America,” he replied, “and I know most of the country between San Francisco and New York pretty well.”
“And Europe?” she asked.
“I walked from Vienna to Paris when I was a boy,” he told her. “It’s years, though, since I was on the Continent.”
Her cousin began to talk of his hunting experiences, and every one listened. As soon as the service of luncheon was concluded, Lady Grenside rose.
“I dare say we shall all meet again before you go,” she said. “Coffee is being served to you in the library, Stephen. We won’t say good-bye to anybody. Jack, don’t forget that you are dining here to-night. You shall take in the blackest young lady I can pick out for you.”
Elisabeth followed her mother. At the last moment, Maraton caught a little whisper which only just floated from her lips.
“Till four o’clock!”
The two younger men took their departure almost immediately. The others moved into the library. Mr. Foley plunged at once into the subject which was uppermost in their minds.
“Mr. Maraton,” he began, “we want to talk about these strikes. Horrill here, and Blend, have an idea that you are working towards some definite result—that you have more in your mind than I have told them. It is only this morning,” he went on in a lower tone, and glancing towards the closed door, “that I explained to them your Manchester speech. They know now that England has you to thank for the fact that we are not at this moment preparing for war.”