“Cuts it down, does he? The brute!” said Miss Howe.
“I’ve known him sacrifice a third of it for an indigo market report. Now, I ask you, who reads an indigo market report? Nobody. Who wants to know how Jimmy Finnigan’s—how the Stanhope Company’s latest novelties went off? Everybody. Of course, when he does that sort of thing, I make it warm for him next morning?”
The door again opened and admitted a harassed little Babu in spectacles, bearing a sheaf of proof slips, who advanced timidly into the middle of the room and paused.
“In a few minutes, Babu,” said Mr. Sinclair; “I am engaged.”
“It iss the Council isspeech of the Legal Member, sir, and it iss to go at five p.m. to his house for last correction.”
“Presently, Babu. Don’t interrupt. As I was saying, Miss Howe, I make it warm for him till he apologises. I must say he always apologises, and I don’t often ask more than that. But I was obliged to tell him the last time that if it happened again one of us would have to go.”
“What did he say to that?”
“I don’t exactly remember. But it had a tremendous effect— tremendous. We became good friends almost immediately.”
“Quite so. We miss you when you don’t come, Mr. Sinclair—last Saturday night, for example.”
“I had to go to the Surprise Party. Jimmy came here with tears in his eyes that morning. ‘My show is tumbling to pieces,’ he said. ‘Sinclair, you’ve got to come to-night.’ Made me dine with him— wouldn’t let me out of his sight. We had to send a reporter to you and Llewellyn that night.”
“Mr. Sinclair, the notice made me weep.”
“I know. All that about the costumes. But what can you expect? The man is as black as your hat.”
“We have to buy our own costumes,” said Hilda, with a glance at the floor, “and we haven’t any too much, you know, to do it on.”
“The toilets in Her Second Son were simply magnificent. Not to be surpassed on the boards of the Lyceum in tasteful design or richness of material. They were ne plus ultra!” cried Mr. Sinclair. “You will remember I said so in my critique.”
“I remember. If I were you I wouldn’t go so far another time. There’s a lot of cotton velvet and satin about it, you know, between ourselves, and Finnigan’s people will be getting the laugh on us. That’s one of the things I wanted to mention. Don’t be quite so good to us. See? Otherwise—well, you know how Calcutta talks, and what a pretty girl Beryl Stace is, for example. Mrs. Sinclair mightn’t like it, and I don’t blame her.”
“As I said before, Miss Howe, you know the world,” Mr. Sinclair replied, with infinite mellow humour, and as Miss Howe had risen he rose too, pulling down his waistcoat.
“There was just one other thing,” Hilda said, holding out her hand. “Next Wednesday, you know, Rosa Norton takes her benefit. Rosy’s as well known here as the Ochterlony monument; she’s been coming every cold weather for ten years, poor old Rosy. Don’t you think you could do her a bit of an interview for Wednesday’s paper? She’ll write up very well—get her on variety entertainments in the Australian bush.”