“About that settlement on Miss Fleur, Mr. Soames?”
“I’ve thought better of that,” answered Soames shortly.
“Ah! I’m glad of that. I thought you were a little hasty. The times do change.”
How this death would affect Fleur had begun to trouble Soames. He was not certain that she knew of it—she seldom looked at the paper, never at the births, marriages, and deaths.
He pressed matters on, and made his way to Green Street for lunch. Winifred was almost doleful. Jack Cardigan had broken a splashboard, so far as one could make out, and would not be “fit” for some time. She could not get used to the idea.
“Did Profond ever get off?” he said suddenly.
“He got off,” replied Winifred, “but where—I don’t know.”
Yes, there it was—impossible to tell anything! Not that he wanted to know. Letters from Annette were coming from Dieppe, where she and her mother were staying.
“You saw that fellow’s death, I suppose?”
“Yes,” said Winifred. “I’m sorry for—for his children. He was very amiable.” Soames uttered a rather queer sound. A suspicion of the old deep truth—that men were judged in this world rather by what they were than by what they did—crept and knocked resentfully at the back doors of his mind.
“I know there was a superstition to that effect,” he muttered.
“One must do him justice now he’s dead.”
“I should like to have done him justice before,” said Soames; “but I never had the chance. Have you got a ‘Baronetage’ here?”
“Yes; in that bottom row.”
Soames took out a fat red book, and ran over the leaves.
“Mont-Sir Lawrence, 9th Bt., cr. 1620, e. s. of Geoffrey, 8th Bt., and Lavinia, daur. of Sir Charles Muskham, Bt., of Muskham Hall, Shrops: marr. 1890 Emily, daur. of Conway Charwell, Esq., of Condaford Grange, co. Oxon; 1 son, heir Michael Conway, b. 1895, 2 daurs. Residence: Lippinghall Manor, Folwell, Bucks. Clubs: Snooks’: Coffee House: Aeroplane. See BidIicott.”
“H’m!” he said. “Did you ever know a publisher?”
“Alive, I mean.”
“Monty knew one at his Club. He brought him here to dinner once. Monty was always thinking of writing a book, you know, about how to make money on the turf. He tried to interest that man.”
“He put him on to a horse—for the Two Thousand. We didn’t see him again. He was rather smart, if I remember.”
“Did it win?”
“No; it ran last, I think. You know Monty really was quite clever in his way.”
“Was he?” said Soames. “Can you see any connection between a sucking baronet and publishing?”
“People do all sorts of things nowadays,” replied Winifred. “The great stunt seems not to be idle—so different from our time. To do nothing was the thing then. But I suppose it’ll come again.”