“Seven thousand pounds!” he exclaimed. “That’s a better estimate of Krugerism than I thought she had. It’ll take much more than that, though, if it’s done at all; but she certainly has sense. It’s seven thousand times too much for Blantyre,” he added, with an exclamation of disgust. “Blantyre—that outsider!” Then he fell to thinking of all she had told him. “Poor girl—poor girl!” he said aloud. “But she must not come here, just the same. She doesn’t see that it’s not the thing, just because she thinks I’m a Sir Galahad—me!” He glanced at the picture of his mother, and nodded toward it tenderly. “So did she always. I might have turned Kurd and robbed caravans, or become a Turk and kept concubines, and she’d never have seen that it was so. But Al’mah mustn’t come here any more, for her own sake.... I’d find it hard to explain if ever, by any chance—”
He fell to thinking of Jasmine, and looked at the clock. It was only ten, and he would not see Jasmine till six; but if he had gone to South Africa he would not have seen her at all! Fate and Wallstein had been kind.
Presently, as he went to the hall to put on his coat and hat to go out, he met Barry Whalen. Barry looked at him curiously; then, as though satisfied, he said: “Early morning visitor, eh? I just met her coming away. Card of thanks for kind services au theatre, eh?”
“Well, it isn’t any business of yours what it is, Barry,” came the reply in tones which congealed.
“No, perhaps not,” answered his visitor, testily, for he had had a night of much excitement, and, after all, this was no way to speak to a friend, to a partner who had followed his lead always. Friendship should be allowed some latitude, and he had said hundreds of things less carefully to Byng in the past. The past—he was suddenly conscious that Byng had changed within the past few days, and that he seemed to have put restraint on himself. Well, he would get back at him just the same for the snub.
“It’s none of my business,” he retorted, “but it’s a good deal of Adrian Fellowes’ business—”
“What is a good deal of Adrian Fellowes’ business?”
“Al’mah coming to your rooms. Fellowes is her man. Going to marry her, I suppose,” he added, cynically.
Byng’s jaw set and his eyes became cold. “Still, I’d suggest your minding your own business, Barry. Your tongue will get you into trouble some day.... You’ve seen Wallstein this morning—and Fleming?”
Barry replied sullenly, and the day’s pressing work began, with the wires busy under the seas.
WITHIN THE POWER-HOUSE
At a few moments before six o’clock Byng was shown into Jasmine’s sitting-room. As he entered, the man who sat at the end of the front row of stalls the first night of “Manassa” rose to his feet. It was Adrian Fellowes, slim, well groomed, with the colour of an apple in his cheeks, and his gold-brown hair waving harmoniously over his unintellectual head.