Lady Yardly smoothed her ruffled hair.
He racked his brains for the most preposterous or faintest hope of deliverance. There were times when as a business man he reproached himself for staying on Thriddar after he became indignant with the way the planet was governed. It was very foolish. But much more often he felt such hatred of the manners and customs of the Thrid—which had put him here—that it seemed that something must somehow be possible if only so he could take revenge.
"It appears," the article said, "that during the earlier part of the morning a tenant of the building observed a woman sleeping in the cellar, but no particular notice was taken of this because of the fact that strangers frequently utilized the cellar for such purposes. Mr. Oliver, one of the occupants of the building, had occasion to go downstairs, and saw the woman. She was crouched in a corner and her head was lying back. The police were called in and the services of Doctor Barton were requisitioned.... Although the cause of death will not be known until a post-mortem examination of the body has been made, death, it is thought, was due to starvation. The woman was about six feet in height, between forty and fifty years of age, and was in a very emaciated condition and clad in very scanty attire."
Hartford shook his head. "I'm not sure, sir. What bothers me more than anything else is that it's my fault Pia went out last night. He asked me to arrange for him to replace the scheduled picket officer, and I did."
He was not. He was a simple, single-minded man, unaccustomed to the ways of flirtation, and utterly uncomprehending any of the mysteries of the craft. He had felt naturally proud of the notice which Lady Caroline had taken of him, had written of it to Marian, attributing it, as he honestly thought it was due, to Lady Caroline's superior education and greater love of books attracting her to him for companionship. He was by no means an observant man, as but few students are, but he had noticed, as he thought, a certain amount of freedom in manners generally at Westhope, which was very different from anything he had previously seen. He ascribed it to the different grade of society, and took but little notice of it. He must, however, have been more than blind not to have seen that in Lady Caroline's conduct towards him at the time of the accident there was something more than this; that in that whispered word, "Walter!" and the tone in which it was whispered, there was an unmistakable admission of a sentiment which he had hitherto chosen to ignore, and which he determined to ignore still.
"But not so serious it could not be tempered by a little cheerfulness. 'Suaviter in modo' goes a long way towards making your enemy's end comfortable," ranted on Father O'Rourke, with much more that I have not the patience to put down. Indeed, I hold him wrong throughout, as I have quite as keen a sense of humour as is fitting for any gentleman in my position.
At the close of the drama a resonant voice from the stage addressed the throng. It was the ex-archon, Conon.
What the Socialists would actually do in England or elsewhere, provided they should manage to get into power, is difficult to say, because, as my experience in Europe has taught me, there are almost as many kinds of Socialists as there are kinds of people. The real old-fashioned Socialists, those who still look forward to some great social catastrophe which will put an end to the present régime, believe it will then be possible to use the political power of the masses to reorganize society in a way to give every individual an economic opportunity equal to that of every other.
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