“And then,” as he confided to Dartie the same evening in the course of a game of billiards at the Red Pottle, “I lost him.”
Dartie twirled complacently at his dark moustache. He had just put together a neat break of twenty-three,—failing at a ‘Jenny.’ “And who was she?” he asked.
George looked slowly at the ‘man of the world’s’ fattish, sallow face, and a little grim smile lurked about the curves of his cheeks and his heavy-lidded eyes.
‘No, no, my fine fellow,’ he thought, ‘I’m not going to tell you.’ For though he mixed with Dartie a good deal, he thought him a bit of a cad.
“Oh, some little love-lady or other,” he said, and chalked his cue.
“A love-lady!” exclaimed Dartie—he used a more figurative expression. “I made sure it was our friend Soa....”
“Did you?” said George curtly. “Then damme you’ve made an error.”
He missed his shot. He was careful not to allude to the subject again till, towards eleven o’clock, having, in his poetic phraseology, ’looked upon the drink when it was yellow,’ he drew aside the blind, and gazed out into the street. The murky blackness of the fog was but faintly broken by the lamps of the ‘Red Pottle,’ and no shape of mortal man or thing was in sight.
“I can’t help thinking of that poor Buccaneer,” he said. “He may be wandering out there now in that fog. If he’s not a corpse,” he added with strange dejection.
“Corpse!” said Dartie, in whom the recollection of his defeat at Richmond flared up. “He’s all right. Ten to one if he wasn’t tight!”
George turned on him, looking really formidable, with a sort of savage gloom on his big face.
“Dry up!” he said. “Don’t I tell you he’s ‘taken the knock!"’
In the morning of his case, which was second in the list, Soames was again obliged to start without seeing Irene, and it was just as well, for he had not as yet made up his mind what attitude to adopt towards her.
He had been requested to be in court by half-past ten, to provide against the event of the first action (a breach of promise) collapsing, which however it did not, both sides showing a courage that afforded Waterbuck, Q.C., an opportunity for improving his already great reputation in this class of case. He was opposed by Ram, the other celebrated breach of promise man. It was a battle of giants.
The court delivered judgment just before the luncheon interval. The jury left the box for good, and Soames went out to get something to eat. He met James standing at the little luncheon-bar, like a pelican in the wilderness of the galleries, bent over a sandwich with a glass of sherry before him. The spacious emptiness of the great central hall, over which father and son brooded as they stood together, was marred now and then for a fleeting moment by barristers