TWO hours behind Bicket, Michael wavered towards home. Old Danby was right as usual--if you couldn't trust your packers, you might shut up shop! Away from Bicket's eyes, he doubted. Perhaps the chap hadn't a wife at all! Then Wilfrid's manner usurped the place of Bicket's morals. Old Wilfrid had been abrupt and queer the last three times of meeting. Was he boiling up for verse?
He found Ting-a-ling at the foot of the stairs in a conservative attitude. 'I am not going up,' he seemed saying, 'until some one carries me--at the same time it is later than usual!'
"Where's your mistress, you heraldic little beast?"
Ting-a-ling snuffled. 'I could put up with it,' he implied, 'if you carried me--these stairs are laborious!'
Michael took him up. "Let's go and find her."
Squeezed under an arm harder than his mistress's, Ting-a-ling stared as if with black-glass eyes; and the plume of his emergent tail quivered.
In the bedroom Michael dropped him so absent-mindedly that he went to his corner plume pendent, and couched there in dudgeon.
Nearly dinner-time and Fleur not in! Michael went over his sketchy recollection of her plans. To-day she had been having Hubert Marsland and that Vertiginist --what was his name?--to lunch. There would have been fumes to clear off. Vertiginists--like milk--made carbonic-acid gas in the lungs! Still! Half past seven! What was happening to-night? Weren't they going to