BENEATH its veneer of cheerful irresponsibility, the character of Michael Mont had deepened during two years of anchorage and continuity. He had been obliged to think of others; and his time was occupied. Conscious, from the fall of the flag, that he was on sufferance with Fleur, admitting as whole the half-truth: "Il y a toujours un qui baise, et l'autre qui tend la joue," he had developed real powers of domestic consideration; and yet he did not seem to redress the balance in his public or publishing existence. He found the human side of his business too strong for the monetary. Danby & Winter, however, were bearing up against him, and showed, so far, no signs of the bankruptcy prophesied for them by Soames on being told of the principles which his son-in-law intended to introduce. No more in publishing than in any other walk of life was Michael finding it possible to work too much on principle. The field of action was so strewn with facts, human, vegetable, and mineral.
On this same Tuesday afternoon, having long tussled with the price of those vegetable facts, paper and linen, he was listening with his pointed ears to the plaint of a packer discovered with five copies of 'Copper Coin' in his overcoat pocket, and the too obvious intention of converting them to his own use.
Mr. Danby had 'given him the bird'--he didn't deny that he was going to sell them, but what would Mr. Mont have done? He owed rent--and his wife wanted nourishing after pneumonia--wanted it bad. 'Dash it!'