PART II

CHAPTER I
THE MARK FALLS

THE state of the world had been getting more and more on Soames' nerves ever since the general meeting of the P.P.R.S. It had gone off with that fatuity long associated by him with such gatherings--a watertight rigmarole from the chairman; butter from two reliable shareholders; vinegar from shareholders not so reliable; and the usual "gup" over the dividend. He had gone there glum, come away glummer. From a notion once taken into his head Soames parted more slowly than a cheese parts from its mites. Two-sevenths of foreign business, nearly all German! And the mark falling! It had begun to fall from the moment that he decided to support the dividend. And why? What was in the wind? Contrary to his custom, he had taken to sniffing closely the political columns of his paper. The French--he had always mistrusted them, especially since his second marriage--the French were going to play old Harry, if he were not greatly mistaken! Their papers, he noticed, never lost a chance of having a dab at English policy; seemed to think they could always call the tune for England to pipe to! And the mark and the franc, and every other sort of money, falling. And, though in Soames was that which rejoiced in the thought that one of his country's bits of paper could buy a great quantity of other countries' bits of paper, there was also that which felt the whole thing silly and unreal, with an ever-growing consciousness that the P.P.R.S. would pay no dividend next year. The P.P.R.S. was a big concern; no dividend would be a sign, and no small one, of bad management. Assurance was one of the few things on God's earth which could and should be conducted without real risk. But for that he would never have gone on the Board. And to find assurance had not been so conducted and that by himself, was--well! He had caused Winifred to sell, anyway, though the shares had already fallen slightly. "I thought it was such a good thing, Soames," she had said plaintively: "it's rather a bore, losing money on the shares." He had answered without mercy: "If you don't sell, you'll lose

-86-

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A Modern Comedy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • Book I - The White Monkey 1
  • Part I 3
  • Part II 86
  • Chapter II - Victorine 97
  • Part III 167
  • Interlude - A Silent Wooing 250
  • Book II - The Silver Spoon 265
  • Part I 267
  • Part II 347
  • Part III 426
  • Book III - Swan Song 521
  • Part I 523
  • Part II 605
  • Chapter VII - Two Visits 653
  • Part III 699
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