Page:Court Royal.djvu/234

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are not spindly. Or—if I may make so bold as to ask—are you going to be Rococo?’

Mr. Rigsby stared. ‘I do not understand——

‘A combination of rock and shell. Are they going to encrust you with rockwork and shellwork, and scoop out curves in you and fill in with flowers, and not leave you a straight line anywhere, and gild you from top to toe? The effect is gorgeous rather than classic. The First Empire is a reaction against that, severe, subdued—nude. Are you going in for that? If so, I have some choice little articles, clocks and side-tables and mirrors.’

Mr. Rigsby stood up. ‘Sir, I am very busy; I leave all this to the decorator. I am incompetent to judge for myself. One thing you may be quite sure of: I will never go in for the nude. The climate don’t admit of it. It is different altogether in Ceylon. I wish you good morning.’

‘Stay, stay!’ exclaimed the Jew, alarmed at the prospect of losing his opportunity in his over-eagerness to deal. ‘Might I ask one thing more, sir? I have matter of the utmost importance to communicate. I cannot speak of the matter in this room. I am afraid of being overheard. It is not about Louis Quatorze, or Rococo, or First Empire.’

‘There is no one here. We are quite alone, but I cannot imagine you can have anything to communicate that will interest me. I have put myself into the hands of a decorator, and given him carte blanche.’

‘If you wish it. Will you hear me patiently for five minutes?’

Mr. Rigsby looked at the French clock. It had stopped. He took out his watch. ‘I can only spare you three. I am most busy.’

‘I will crush all I have to say into three minutes. Only I entreat you, my dear sir, to have patience with me, and allow me fully to explain the circumstances to you. In your presence, sir, in the presence, sir, of a man of your colossal fortune, I feel myself so agitated, so unable to gather my thoughts, that——

‘I am ready to listen to you during three minutes. I cannot allow more. My time is of exceeding value, I am pressed with business which may not be postponed. I see by my watch that only two minutes remain.’

‘I will make haste, sir, but the presence of a Goliath of wealth overawes me. I have heard, sir, of the immensity of