“What name did you say—what name?”
Mr. Sabin referred again to the letter which he held in his hand.
“Brott!” he repeated. “He is Home Secretary, I believe.”
“What do you know about him?”
“Nothing,” Mr. Sabin answered. “My niece, the Countess of Camperdown, asks me to meet him to-day at luncheon. Explain yourself, my young friend. There is a fresh glass by your side.”
Felix poured himself out a glass and drank it off. But he remained silent.
Felix picked up his gloves and stick.
“You are asked to meet Mr. Brott at luncheon to-day?”
“Are you going?”
“Very good,” he said. “I should advise you to cultivate his acquaintance. He is a very extraordinary man.”
“Come, Felix,” Mr. Sabin said. “You owe me something more lucid in the way of explanations. Who is he?”
“A statesman—successful, ambitious. He expects to be Prime Minister.”
“And what have I to do with him, or he with me?” Mr. Sabin asked quietly.
Felix shook his head.
“I cannot tell you,” he said. “Yet I fancy that you and he may some time be drawn together.”
Mr. Sabin asked no more questions, but he promptly sat down and accepted his niece’s invitation. When he looked round Felix had gone. He rang the bell for Duson and handed him the note.
“My town clothes, Duson,” he ordered. “I am lunching out.”
The man bowed and withdrew. Mr. Sabin remained for a few moments in deep thought.
“Brott!” he repeated. “Brott! It is a singular name.”
So this was the man! Mr. Sabin did not neglect his luncheon, nor was he ever for a moment unmindful of the grey-headed princess who chatted away by his side with all the vivacity of her race and sex. But he watched Mr. Brott.
A man this! Mr. Sabin was a judge, and he appraised him rightly. He saw through that courteous geniality of tone and gesture; the ready-made smile, although it seemed natural enough, did not deceive him. Underneath was a man of iron, square-jawed, nervous, forceful. Mr. Brott was probably at that time the ablest politician of either party in the country. Mr. Sabin knew it. He found himself wondering exactly at what point of their lives this man and he would come into contact.
After luncheon Helene brought them together.
“I believe,” she said to Mr. Brott, “that you have never met my uncle. May I make you formally acquainted? Uncle, this is Mr. Brott, whom you must know a great deal about even though you have been away for so long—the Duc de Souspennier.”
The two men bowed and Helene passed on. Mr. Sabin leaned upon his stick and watched keenly for any sign in the other’s face. If he expected to find it he was disappointed. Either this man had no knowledge of who he was, or those things which were to come between them were as yet unborn.