“The papers will have a regular carnival. I repeat, they are the very people for whom our law of divorce is framed. There’s a great deal to be said for publicity, but all the same it puts a premium on insensibility, and causes a vast amount of suffering to innocent people. I told you once before, to get a divorce, even if you deserve it, you mustn’t be a sensitive person. Those three will go through it all splendidly, but every scrap of skin will be torn off you and our poor friends down here, and the result will be a drawn battle at the end! That’s if it’s fought, and if it comes on I don’t see how we can let it go unfought; it’s contrary to my instincts. If we let it go undefended, mark my words, your ward and George Pendyce will be sick of each other before the law allows them to marry, and George, as his father says, for the sake of ‘morality,’ will have to marry a woman who is tired of him, or of whom he is tired. Now you’ve got it straight from the shoulder, and I’m going up to bed. It’s a heavy dew. Lock this door after you.”
Mr. Paramor made his way into the conservatory. He stopped and came back.
“Pendyce,” he said, “perfectly understands all I’ve been telling you. He’d give his eyes for the case not to come on, but you’ll see he’ll rub everything up the wrong way, and it’ll be a miracle if we succeed. That’s ‘Pendycitis’! We’ve all got a touch of it. Good-night!”
Gregory was left alone outside the country house with his big star. And as his thoughts were seldom of an impersonal kind he did not reflect on “Pendycitis,” but on Helen Bellew. And the longer he thought the more he thought of her as he desired to think, for this was natural to him; and ever more ironical grew the twinkling of his star above the spinney where the nightingale was singing.
GEORGE GOES FOR THE GLOVES
On the Thursday of the Epsom Summer Meeting, George Pendyce sat in the corner of a first-class railway-carriage trying to make two and two into five. On a sheet of Stoics’ Club note-paper his racing-debts were stated to a penny—one thousand and forty five pounds overdue, and below, seven hundred and fifty lost at the current meeting. Below these again his private debts were indicated by the round figure of one thousand pounds. It was round by courtesy, for he had only calculated those bills which had been sent in, and Providence, which knows all things, preferred the rounder figure of fifteen hundred. In sum, therefore, he had against him a total of three thousand two hundred and ninety-five pounds. And since at Tattersalls and the Stock Exchange, where men are engaged in perpetual motion, an almost absurd punctiliousness is required in the payment of those sums which have for the moment inadvertently been lost, seventeen hundred and ninety-five of this must infallibly be raised by Monday next. Indeed, only a certain liking for George, a good loser and a good winner, and the fear of dropping a good customer, had induced the firm of bookmakers to let that debt of one thousand and forty-five stand over the Epsom Meeting.