'Er--well,' he said, '_noblesse oblige_, don't you know, what?'

For a moment Claire did not speak. Then she looked at her watch and got up.

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'I must be going,' she said, coldly.

'But you haven't had your coffee yet.'

'I don't want any coffee.'

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'What's the matter, dear?'

'Nothing is the matter. I have to go home and pack. I'm going to Southampton this afternoon.'

She began to move towards the door. Lord Dawlish, anxious to follow, was detained by the fact that he had not yet paid the bill. The production and settling of this took time, and when finally he turned in search of Claire she was nowhere visible.

Bounding upstairs on the swift feet of love, he reached the street. She had gone.

A grey sadness surged over Bill Dawlish. The sun hid itself behind a cloud, the sky took on a leaden hue, and a chill wind blew through the world. He scanned Shaftesbury Avenue with a jaundiced eye, and thought that he had never seen a beastlier thoroughfare. Piccadilly, however, into which he shortly dragged himself, was even worse. It was full of men and women and other depressing things.

He pitied himself profoundly. It was a rotten world to live in, this, where a fellow couldn't say _noblesse oblige_ without upsetting the universe. Why shouldn't a fellow say _noblesse oblige?_ Why--? At this juncture Lord Dawlish walked into a lamp-post.

The shock changed his mood. Gloom still obsessed him, but blended now with remorse. He began to look at the matter from Claire's viewpoint, and his pity switched from himself to her. In the first place, the poor girl had rather a rotten time. Could she be blamed for wanting him to make money? No. Yet whenever she made suggestions as to how the thing was to be done, he snubbed her by saying _noblesse oblige_. Naturally a refined and sensitive young girl objected to having things like _noblesse oblige_ said to her. Where was the sense in saying _noblesse oblige_? Such a confoundedly silly thing to say. Only a perfect ass would spend his time rushing about the place saying _noblesse oblige_ to people.

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'By Jove!' Lord Dawlish stopped in his stride. He disentangled himself from a pedestrian who had rammed him on the back. 'I'll do it!'

He hailed a passing taxi and directed the driver to make for the Pen and Ink Club.