They strolled together after the other guests into the winter gardens, which were the envy of every hostess in London. Mr. Sabin lit a cigarette, Mr. Brott regretfully declined. He neither smoked nor drank wine. Yet he was disposed to be friendly, and selected a seat where they were a little apart from the other guests.
“You at least,” he remarked, in answer to an observation of Mr. Sabin’s, “are free from the tyranny of politics. I am assuming, of course, that your country under its present form of government has lost its hold upon you.”
Mr. Sabin smiled.
“It is a doubtful boon,” he said. “It is true that I am practically an exile. Republican France has no need of me. Had I been a soldier I could still have remained a patriot. But for one whose leanings were towards politics, neither my father before me nor I could be of service to our country. You should be thankful,” he continued with a slight smile, “that you are an Englishman. No constitution in the world can offer so much to the politician who is strong enough and fearless enough.”
Mr. Brott glanced towards his twinkling eyes.
“Do you happen to know what my politics are?” he asked.
Mr. Sabin hesitated.
“Your views, I know, are advanced,” he said. “For the rest I have been abroad for years. I have lost touch a little with affairs in this country.”
“I am afraid,” Mr. Brott said, “that I shall shock you. You are an aristocrat of the aristocrats, I a democrat of the democrats. The people are the only masters whom I own. They first sent me to Parliament.”
“Yet,” Mr. Sabin remarked, “you are, I understand, in the Cabinet.”
Mr. Brott glanced for a moment around. The Prime Minister was somewhere in the winter gardens.
“That,” he declared, “is an accident. I happened to be the only man available who could do the work when Lord Kilbrooke died. I am telling you only what is an open secret. But I am afraid I am boring you. Shall we join the others?”
“Not unless you yourself are anxious to,” Mr. Sabin begged. “It is scarcely fair to detain you talking to an old man when there are so many charming women here. But I should be sorry for you to think me hidebound in my prejudices. You must remember that the Revolution decimated my family. It was a long time ago, but the horror of it is still a live thing.”
“Yet it was the natural outcome,” Mr. Brott said, “of the things which went before. Such hideous misgovernment as generations of your countrymen had suffered was logically bound to bring its own reprisal.”
“There is truth in what you say,” Mr. Sabin admitted. He did not want to talk about the French Revolution.
“You are a stranger in London, are you not?” Mr. Brott asked.
“I feel myself one,” Mr. Sabin answered. “I have been away for a few years, and I do not think that there is a city in the world where social changes are so rapid. I should perhaps except the cities of the country from which I have come. But then America is a universe of itself.”