“Forgive me, Bob! It’s I who got you into this!”
“No, sir; naught to forgive. I’ll soon be back, and then they’ll see!”
By the reddening of Mr. Pogram’s ears Felix formed the opinion that the little man, also, could hear.
“Tell her not to fret, Mr. Derek. I’d like a shirt, in case I’ve got to stop. The children needn’ know where I be; though I an’t ashamed.”
“It may be a longer job than you think, Bob.”
In the silence that followed Felix could not help turning. The laborer’s eyes were moving quickly round his cell, as if for the first time he realized that he was shut up; suddenly he brought those big hands of his together and clasped them between his knees, and again his gaze ran round the cell. Felix heard the clearing of a throat close by, and, more than ever conscious of the scent of gutta-percha, grasped its connection with compassion in the heart of Mr. Pogram. He caught Derek’s muttered, “Don’t ever think we’re forgetting you, Bob,” and something that sounded like, “And don’t ever say you did it.” Then, passing Felix and the little lawyer, the boy went out. His head was held high, but tears were running down his cheeks. Felix followed.
A bank of clouds, gray-white, was rising just above the red-tiled roofs, but the sun still shone brightly. And the thought of the big laborer sitting there knocked and knocked at Felix’s heart mournfully, miserably. He had a warmer feeling for his young nephew than he had ever had. Mr. Pogram rejoined them soon, and they walked on together,
“Well?” said Felix.
Mr. Pogram answered in a somewhat grumpy voice:
“Not guilty, and reserve defence. You have influence, young man! Dumb as a waiter. Poor devil!” And not another word did he say till they had re-entered his garden.
Here the ladies, surrounded by many little Pograms, were having tea. And seated next the little lawyer, whose eyes were fixed on Nedda, Felix was able to appreciate that in happier mood he exhaled almost exclusively the scent of lavender-water and cigars.
On their way back to Becket, after the visit to Tryst, Felix and Nedda dropped Derek half-way on the road to Joyfields. They found that the Becket household already knew of the arrest. Woven into a dirge on the subject of ‘the Land,’ the last town doings, and adventures on golf courses, it formed the genial topic of the dinner-table; for the Bulgarian with his carbohydrates was already a wonder of the past. The Bigwigs of this week-end were quite a different lot from those of three weeks ago, and comparatively homogeneous, having only three different plans for settling the land question, none of which, fortunately, involved any more real disturbance of the existing state of things than the potato, brown-bread plan, for all were based on the belief held by the