Previous chapterContentsNext chapter



FULL of this idea I called upon the Premier the next afternoon. I knew him slightly, enough to ensure his ear for long enough to let him know that I had something important to communicate; and that done he readily granted me a private audience. Although Mirzarbeau had made him into a sort of permanent Prime Minister, I knew that Sir William was not likely to love his new master by now. Two pet measures, which he had cherished for many years, had been rudely torn up by the Beast, and I counted on finding him annoyed by it.

He was. "The brute's cunning," said he, "is beyond anything that the diplomatic service can produce. He knows that the people are too cowed to kick at the rankest oppression; consequently he neglects them, and panders to the gold-bags of the classes that might have stood against him; and who, did they get exterminated in the struggle, might have been not unbeneficial to the world in so doing. As it is, some of the more selfish ratepayers are already beginning to swear by him! In fine, he bullies the cowed, and sucks up to the successful!"

The Prime Minister had had in his day a pretty reputation as a wit; in the hour of his adversity he still struggled manfully to retain it.

I laughed as much as politeness required; then, seized the lull to tell him of my scheme. I call it mine, because I did not think it necessary to bring in Dornton's name.

The Premier waved me into silence with one magnificent gesture as he towered above me, a mountain of indignation.

"It is not my department," said he. " I doubt if it be in that of any of my colleagues. In any case I am bound by an agreement that would fetter my hands. Apply to the London County Council."

Here also, to be brief, I was snubbed for my pains, and sent elsewhere. After a few more experiences of a like nature I gave the matter up and troubled no more about it; I could no longer continue without risk of being more prominent in the matter than I dared to be.

Previous chapterContentsNext chapter