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about her expression.

"But what does it mean that you are here just now?" she persisted.
"According to the newspapers you should be at Buckingham Palace to-day."

"To-morrow," he corrected her. "I hired a very powerful car and motored
down yesterday afternoon. I am starting back when the moon rises
to-night. For these few hours I am better out of London."

"But why - " she faltered.

He was slowly finding himself.

"I came for you, Jane," he said, "on any terms - anyhow. I came to beg
for your sympathy, for some measure of your affection, to beg you to
come back to Charles Street. Is it too late for me to abase myself?"

Her eyes glowed across at him. She suddenly rose, came over and knelt
by the side of his chair. Her arms went around his neck.

"Andrew," she whispered, "I have been ashamed. I was wrong. That
night - the thought of my pettiness - my foolish, selfish fears. - Oh, I
was wrong! I have prayed that the time might come when I could tell
you. And if you hadn't come, I never could have told you. I couldn't
have written. I couldn't have come to London. But I wanted you to

She drew his head down and kissed him upon the lips. Tallente knew then
why he had come. The whole orchestra of life was playing again. He was
strong enough to overcome mountains.

"Andrew," she faltered, "you really - "

He stopped her.

"Jane," he said, "I have some stupid news. It seems to me incredibly
stupid. Let me pass it on to you quickly. You knew, didn't you, that I
was married in America? Well, my wife has divorced me there. We
married in a State where such things are possible."

"Divorced you?" she exclaimed.

"Quite legally," he went on. "I saw a lawyer before I started yesterday
morning. But listen to the rest of it. Stella is married - married to
the man I thought I had thrown over the cliff. She is married to
Anthony Palliser."

"Then you are free?" Jane murmured, drawing a little away. "Not in the
least," he replied. "I am engaged to marry you."

At luncheon, with Parkins in attendance, it became possible for them to
converse coherently.

"When I found you at home in the middle of the morning," he said, "I was
afraid that you were Ill."

"I haven't been well," she admitted. "I rode some distance yesterday
and it fatigued me. Somehow or other, I think I have had the feeling,
the last few weeks, that my work here is over. All my farms are sold.
I have really now no means of occupying my time."

"It is fortunate," he told her, with a smile, "that I am able to point
out to you a new sphere of usefulness."

She made a little grimace at him behind Parkins' august back.

"Tell me," she asked, "how did you ever make your peace with the trades
unions after that terrible article of yours?"

"Because," he replied, "except for Miller, their late chief, there are a
great many highly intelligent men connected with the administration of
the trades unions. They realised the spirit in which I wrote that
article and the condition of the country at the time I wrote it. My
apologia was accepted by every one who counted. The publication of that
article," he went on, "was Miller's scheme to drive me out of politics.
It has turned out to be the greatest godsend ever vouchsafed to our
cause, for it is going to put Mr. Miller out of the power of doing
mischief for a - many years to come."

"How I hated him when he called here that day! Jane murmured

"Miller is the type of man," Tallente declared, "who was always putting
the Labour Party in a false position. He was born and he has lived and
he has thought parochially. He is all the time lashing himself into a
fury over imagined wrongs and wanting to play the little tin god on
Olympus with his threatened strikes. Now there will be no more

"I was reading about that," she reflected. "How wonderful it sounds!"

"The greatest power in the country," Tallente explained, "is that
wielded by these trades unions. There will be no more fights between
the Government and them, because they are coaling into the Government.
I am afraid you will think our programme revolutionary. On the other
hand, it is going to be a Government of justice. We want to give the
people their due, each man according to his worth. By that means we
wipe out all fear forever of the scourge of eastern and mid-Europe, the
bolshevism and anarchy which have laid great empires bare. We are not
going to make the poor add to the riches of the rich, but on the other
hand we are not going to take from the rich to give to the poor. The
sociological scheme upon which our plan of government will be based is
to open every avenue to success equally to rich and poor. The human
being must sink or swim, according to his capacity. Ours will never be
a State-aided socialism."

Parkins had left the room. She held out her hand.

"How horrid of you!" she murmured. "You are gibing at me because I lent
my farmers a little money." He laughed softly.

"You dear!" he exclaimed. "On my honour, it never entered into my head.
Only I want to bring you gradually into the new way of thinking, because
I want so much from you so much help and sympathy."

"And?" she pleaded.

He looked around to be sure that Parkins was gone and, leaning from his
place, kissed her.

"If you care for moonlight motoring," he whispered, "I think I can give
you quite a clear outline of all that I expect from you."

She drew a little sigh of relief.

"If you had left me behind," she murmured, "I should have sat here and
imagined that it was all a dream. And I am just a little weary of


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Online LibraryE. Phillips OppenheimNobody's Man → online text (page 19 of 19)