“Down, Blink, down!” said Mr. Lavender, leaning still further out.
“For pity’s sake,” wailed the young lady, “don’t fall out again, or I shall burst.”
“Ah, believe me,” said Mr. Lavender in a receding voice, “I would not pain you further for the world——”
Mrs. Petty, exerting all her strength, had hauled him in.
“Aren’t you ashamed of yourself, sir,” she said severely, “talking to a young lady like that in your dressing-gown?
“Mrs. Petty,” said Mr Lavender mysteriously, “it might have been worse.... I should like some tea with a little lemon in it.”
Taking this for a sign of returning reason Mrs. Petty drew him gently towards the bed, and, having seen him get in, tucked him up and said:
“Now, sir, you never break your word, do you?”
“No public man——” began Mr. Lavender.
“Oh, bother! Now, promise me to stay quiet in bed while I get you that tea.”
“I certainly shall,” replied our hero, “for I feel rather faint.”
“That’s right,” said Mrs. Petty. “I trust you.” And, bolting the window, she whisked out of the room and locked the door behind her.
Mr. Lavender lay with his eyes fixed on the, ceiling, clucking his parched tongue. “God,” he thought, “for one must use that word when the country is in danger—God be thanked for Beauty! But I must not allow it to unsteel my soul. Only when the cause of humanity has triumphed, and with the avenging sword and shell we have exterminated that criminal nation, only then shall I be entitled to let its gentle influence creep about my being.” And drinking off the tumbler of tea which Mrs. Petty was holding to his lips, he sank almost immediately into a deep slumber.
MAKES A MISTAKE, AND MEETS A MOON-CAT
The old lady, whose name was Sinkin, and whose interest in Mr. Lavender had become so deep, lived in a castle in Frognal; and with her lived her young nephew, a boy of forty-five, indissolubly connected with the Board of Guardians. It was entirely due to her representations that he presented himself at Mr. Lavender’s on the following day, and, sending in his card, was admitted to our hero’s presence.
Mr. Lavender, pale and stiff, was sitting in his study, with Blink on his feet, reading a speech.
“Excuse my getting up, sir,” he said; “and pray be seated.”
The nephew, who had a sleepy, hairless face and little Chinese eyes, bowed, and sitting down, stared at Mr. Lavender with a certain embarrassment.
“I have come,” he said at last, “to ask you a few questions on behalf of—”