“Felix,” he said slowly, “I am sometimes conscious of the fact that I am passing into that period of life which we call old age. My ambitions are dead, my energies are weakened. For many years I have toiled—the time has come for rest. Of all the great passions which I have felt there remains but one—Lucille. Life without her is worth nothing to me. I am weary of solitude, I am weary of everything except Lucille. How then can I listen to such advice? For me it must be Lucille, or that little journey into the mists, from which one does not return.”
Felix was silent. The pathos of this thing touched him.
“I will not dispute the right of those who have taken her from me,” Mr. Sabin continued, “but I want her back. She is necessary to me. My purse, my life, my brains are there to be thrown into the scales. I will buy her, or fight for her, or rejoin their ranks myself. But I want her back.”
Still Felix was silent. He was looking steadfastly into the fire.
“You have heard me,” Mr. Sabin said.
“I have heard you,” Felix answered. “My advice stands,”
“I know now,” Mr. Sabin said, “that I have a hard task before me. They shall have me for a friend or an enemy. I can still make myself felt as either. You have nothing more to say?”
“Then let us part company,” Mr. Sabin said, “or talk of something more cheerful. You depress me, Felix. Let Duson bring us wine. You look like a death’s head.”
Felix roused himself.
“You will go your own way,” he said. “Now that you have chosen I will tell you this. I am glad. Yes, let Duson bring wine. I will drink to your health and to your success. There have been times when men have performed miracles. I shall drink to that miracle.”
Duson brought also a letter, which Mr. Sabin, with a nod towards Felix, opened. It was from Helene.
“15 Park Lane, London, “Thursday Morning.
“My dear uncle,—
“I want you to come to luncheon to-day. The Princess de Catelan is here, and I am expecting also Mr. Brott, the Home Secretary—our one great politician, you know. Many people say that he is the most interesting man in England, and must be our next Prime Minister. Such people interest you, I know. Do come.
Mr. Sabin repeated the name to himself as he stood for a moment with the letter in his hand.
“Brott! What a name for a statesman! Well, here is your health, Felix. I do not often drink wine in the morning, but—”
He broke off in the middle of his sentence. The glass which Felix had been in the act of raising to his lips lay shattered upon the floor, and a little stream of wine trickled across the carpet. Felix himself seemed scarcely conscious of the disaster. His cheeks were white, and he leaned across the table towards Mr. Sabin.