A few yards off he looked back, and saw that the dog had made a rush out of the area and was limping furtively down the street. The idle boys were in the offing, and he disliked the thought of leaving them in control of the situation. Softly, with infinite precautions, he began to follow the dog. He did not know why he was doing it, but the impulse was overmastering. For a moment he seemed to be gaining upon his quarry, but with a cunning sense of his approach it suddenly turned and hobbled across the frozen grass-plot adjoining a shuttered house. Against the wall at the back of the plot it cowered down in a dirty snow-drift, as if disheartened by the struggle. Millner stood outside the railings and looked at it. He reflected that under the shelter of the winter dusk it might have the luck to remain there unmolested, and that in the morning it would probably be dead of cold. This was so obviously the best solution that he began to move away again; but as he did so the idle boys confronted him.
“Ketch yer dog for yer, boss?” they grinned.
Millner consigned them to the devil, and stood sternly watching them till the first stage of the journey had carried them around the nearest corner; then, after pausing to look once more up and down the empty street, laid his hand on the railing, and vaulted over it into the grass-plot. As he did so, he reflected that, since pity for suffering was one of the most elementary forms of egotism, he ought to have remembered that it was necessarily one of the most tenacious.
“My chief aim in life?” Orlando G. Spence repeated. He threw himself back in his chair, straightened the tortoise-shell pince-nez, on his short blunt nose, and beamed down the luncheon table at the two young men who shared his repast.
His glance rested on his son Draper, seated opposite him behind a barrier of Georgian silver and orchids; but his words were addressed to his secretary who, stylograph in hand, had turned from the seductions of a mushroom souffle in order to jot down, for the Sunday Investigator, an outline of his employer’s views and intentions respecting the newly endowed Orlando G. Spence College for Missionaries. It was Mr. Spence’s practice to receive in person the journalists privileged to impart his opinions to a waiting world; but during the last few months—and especially since the vast project of the Missionary College had been in process of development—the pressure of business and beneficence had necessitated Millner’s frequent intervention, and compelled the secretary to snatch the sense of his patron’s elucubrations between the courses of their hasty meals.