“The only respectable man I know,” said Jacob, “is the man as earns his bread; and Mr. Finn, as I take it, is a long way from that yet.”
Phineas returned to his lodgings before he went down to his club, and again told Mrs. Bunce that he had altogether made up his mind about the chambers. “If you’ll keep me I shall stay here for the first session I daresay.”
“Of course we shall be only too proud, Mr. Finn; and though it mayn’t perhaps be quite the place for a member of Parliament—”
“But I think it is quite the place.”
“It’s very good of you to say so, Mr. Finn, and we’ll do our very best to make you comfortable. Respectable we are, I may say; and though Bunce is a bit rough sometimes—”
“Never to me, Mrs. Bunce.”
“But he is rough,—and silly, too, with his radical nonsense, paying a shilling a week to a nasty Union just for nothing. Still he means well, and there ain’t a man who works harder for his wife and children;—that I will say of him. And if he do talk politics—”
“But I like a man to talk politics, Mrs. Bunce.”
“For a gentleman in Parliament of course it’s proper; but I never could see what good it could do to a law-stationer; and when he talks of Labour going to the wall, I always ask him whether he didn’t get his wages regular last Saturday. But, Lord love you, Mr. Finn, when a man as is a journeyman has took up politics and joined a Trade Union, he ain’t no better than a milestone for his wife to take and talk to him.”
After that Phineas went down to the Reform Club, and made one of those who were buzzing there in little crowds and uttering their prophecies as to future events. Lord de Terrier was to go out. That was certain. Whether Mr. Mildmay was to come in was uncertain. That he would go to Windsor to-morrow morning was not to be doubted; but it was thought very probable that he might plead his age, and decline to undertake the responsibility of forming a Ministry.
“And what then?” said Phineas to his friend Fitzgibbon.
“Why, then there will be a choice out of three. There is the Duke, who is the most incompetent man in England; there is Monk, who is the most unfit; and there is Gresham, who is the most unpopular. I can’t conceive it possible to find a worse Prime Minister than either of the three;—but the country affords no other.”
“And which would Mildmay name?”
“All of them,—one after the other, so as to make the embarrassment the greater.” That was Mr. Fitzgibbon’s description of the crisis; but then it was understood that Mr. Fitzgibbon was given to romancing.
The News about Mr. Mildmay and Sir Everard