Dartrey frowned a little impatiently.
“This is rubbish, Miller,” he pronounced. “It is you who are to blame for attaching the slightest importance to these trifles.”
“Trifles!” Miller growled. “Within a very short time, Dartrey, this question will have to be settled. Does Tallente know that I am promised a seat in his Cabinet?”
“I think that he must surmise it.”
“The sooner he knows, the better,” Miller declared acidly. “Tallente can unbend all right when he likes. He was dining at the Trocadero the other night with Brooks and Ainley and Parker and Saunderson—the most cheerful party in the place. Tallente seemed to have slipped out of himself, and yet there isn’t one of those men who has ever had a day’s schooling or has ever worn anything but ready-made clothes. He leaves his starch off when he’s with them. What’s the matter with me, I should like to know? I’m a college man, even though I did go as an exhibitioner. I was a school teacher when those fellows were wielding pick-axes.”
Dartrey looked at his companion thoughtfully. For a single moment the words trembled upon his lips which would have brought things to an instant and profitless climax. Then he remembered the million or so of people of Miller’s own class and way of thinking, to whom he was a leading light, and he choked back the words.
“I find this sort of conversation a little peevish, Miller,” he said. “As soon as any definite difference of opinion arises between you and Tallente, I will intervene. At present you are both doing good work. Our cause needs you both.”
“You won’t forget how I stand?” Miller persisted, as they reached their destination.
“No one has ever yet accused me of breaking my word,” was the somewhat chilly rejoinder. “You shall have your pound of flesh.”
Jane leaned back in her chair, drew off her gloves and looked around her with an appreciative smile. She had somehow the subtle air of being even more pleased with herself and her surroundings than she was willing to admit. Every table in the restaurant was occupied. The waiters were busy: there was an air of gaiety. A faint smell of cookery hung about the place and its clients were undeniably a curious mixture of the bourgeois and theatrical. Nevertheless, she was perfectly content and smiled her greetings to the great Monsieur George, who himself brought their menu.
“We want the best of your ordinary dishes,” Tallente told him, “and remember that we do not come here expecting Ritz specialities or a Savoy chef d’oeuvre. We want those special hors d’oeuvres which you know all about, a sole grilled a la maison, a plainly roasted chicken with an endive salad. The sweets are your affair. The savoury must be a cheese souffle. And for wine—”
He broke off and looked across the table. Jane smiled apologetically.