Again a sound like a chuckle from the window. The Marquess looked sharply round, but Lazarus, who sat there, was quiet, his face in shadow and illegible.
‘Small charities!’ said the General. ‘Better the sword Miséricorde which ends the torture with a thrust.’
Silence ensued. Lord Edward and the General looked down; the eyes of the Marquess were on the fire.’
Lazarus watched them eagerly with malicious delight.
‘You will go no further?’ asked Mr. Worthivale.
‘This is the limit imposed on me by my clients. You will understand, I am but the intermediary; I am obliged to act as directed.’
Ten minutes of painful silence ensued.
‘I see no necessity for prolonging the meeting,’ said the Marquess, rising.
‘None at all, as far as I am concerned,’ answered the solicitor.
‘Sorry the matter should be ventilated with such freedom in the papers. There was something about it a little while ago, and now the Society papers are still more explicit. There is no mistaking the allusions. If worth while, prosecutions might be begun. Hah!’ said Crudge, ‘I have them in my pocket. Really, these periodicals are offensive and insulting.’
The colour rushed into the General’s face. Lord Edward turned pale, and held the jamb of the chimney-piece to prevent himself from falling; a mist formed before his eyes. Lord Saltcombe compressed his lips and clenched his hands. As Grudge offered him the papers with coarse civility, he brushed them aside.
‘You want me no further?’ he said to Mr. Worthivale.
‘No, my lord, there is nothing to be done.’
‘Very well; I will consult my uncles at home. I wish you all a good afternoon.’
‘A very pleasant afternoon to you, my lord,’ said Lazarus, also rising, and bowing deeply.
Lord Saltcombe slightly bent his head, and left the room.
Almost immediately after, Lazarus followed; Crudge was detained but a few minutes. When he also was gone, Lord Ronald looked at his brother.
‘Hopelessly ruined—that is the plain English,’ he said.
‘And satyrs dance and scoff over our grave,’ said Lord Edward, pointing to the papers.