9Yz

9Yz

'What do you say? Shall I pop over and have a look round? I might happen to drop into something. Gates was telling me about fellows he knew who had dropped into things in New York.'

'What's the good of putting yourself to all the trouble and expense of going to America? You can easily make all you want in London if you will only try. It isn't as if you had no chances. You have more chances than almost any man in town. With your title you could get all the directorships in the City that you wanted.'

'Well, the fact is, this business of taking directorships has never quite appealed to me. I don't know anything about the game, and I should probably run up against some wildcat company. I can't say I like the directorship wheeze much. It's the idea of knowing that one's name would be being used as a bait. Every time I saw it on a prospectus I should feel like a trout fly.'

Claire bit her lip.

'It's so exasperating!' she broke out. 'When I first told my friends that I was engaged to Lord Dawlish they were tremendously impressed. They took it for granted that you must have lots of money. Now I have to keep explaining to them that the reason we don't get married is that we can't afford to. I'm almost as badly off as poor Polly Davis who was in the Heavenly Waltz Company with me when she married that man, Lord Wetherby. A man with a title has no right not to have money. It makes the whole thing farcical.

'If I were in your place I should have tried a hundred things by now, but you always have some silly objection. Why couldn't you, for instance, have taken on the agency of that what-d'you-call-it car?'

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'What I called it would have been nothing to what the poor devils who bought it would have called it.'

'You could have sold hundreds of them, and the company would have given you any commission you asked. You know just the sort of people they wanted to get in touch with.'

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'But, darling, how could I? Planting Breitstein on the club would have been nothing compared with sowing these horrors about London. I couldn't go about the place sticking my pals with a car which, I give you my honest word, was stuck together with chewing-gum and tied up with string.'

'Why not? It would be their fault if they bought a car that wasn't any good. Why should you have to worry once you had it sold?'

It was not Lord Dawlish's lucky afternoon. All through lunch he had been saying the wrong thing, and now he put the coping-stone on his misdeeds. Of all the ways in which he could have answered Claire's question he chose the worst.

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'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.

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

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

'I don't want any coffee.'

'What's the matter, dear?'