“Do you mean to tell me, Laura, that you will make no effort to do your duty as my wife?”
“I mean to tell you that I will not try to cure a headache by doing sums. That is all that I mean to say at this moment. If you will leave me for awhile, so that I may lie down, perhaps I shall be able to come to dinner.” He still hesitated, standing with the door in his hand. “But if you go on scolding me,” she continued, “what I shall do is to go to bed directly you go away.” He hesitated for a moment longer, and then left the room without another word.
Mr. Slide’s Grievance
Our hero was elected member for Loughton without any trouble to him or, as far as he could see, to any one else. He made one speech from a small raised booth that was called a platform, and that was all that he was called upon to do. Mr. Grating made a speech in proposing him, and Mr. Shortribs another in seconding him; and these were all the speeches that were required. The thing seemed to be so very easy that he was afterwards almost offended when he was told that the bill for so insignificant a piece of work came to L247 13s. 9d. He had seen no occasion for spending even the odd forty-seven pounds. But then he was member for Loughton; and as he passed the evening alone at the inn, having dined in company with Messrs. Grating, Shortribs, and sundry other influential electors, he began to reflect that, after all, it was not so very great a thing to be a member of Parliament. It almost seemed that that which had come to him so easily could not be of much value.
On the following day he went to the castle, and was there when the Earl arrived. They two were alone together, and the Earl was very kind to him. “So you had no opponent after all,” said the great man of Loughton, with a slight smile.
“Not the ghost of another candidate.”
“I did not think there would be. They have tried it once or twice and have always failed. There are only one or two in the place who like to go one way just because their neighbours go the other. But, in truth, there is no conservative feeling in the place!”
Phineas, although he was at the present moment the member for Loughton himself, could not but enjoy the joke of this. Could there be any liberal feeling in such a place, or, indeed, any political feeling whatsoever? Would not Messrs. Grating and Shortribs have done just the same had it happened that Lord Brentford had been a Tory peer? “They all seemed to be very obliging,” said Phineas, in answer to the Earl.
“Yes, they are. There isn’t a house in the town, you know, let for longer than seven years, and most of them merely from year to year. And, do you know, I haven’t a farmer on the property with a lease,—not one; and they don’t want leases. They know they’re safe. But I do like the people round me to be of the same way of thinking as myself about politics.”