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   Chapter 20 No.20

The Regent By Arnold Bennett Characters: 2068

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04

The next scene in the exciting drama of Edward Henry's existence that day took place in a building as huge as Wilkins's itself. As the brougham halted at its portals an old and medalled man rushed forth, touched his cap, and assisted Edward Henry to alight. Within the groined and echoing hall of the establishment a young boy sprang out and, with every circumstance of deference, took Edward Henry's hat and stick. Edward Henry then walked a few steps to a lift, and said "smoking-room" to another menial, who bowed humbly before him, and at the proper moment bowed him out of the lift. Edward Henry, crossing a marble floor, next entered an enormous marble apartment chiefly populated by easy-chairs and tables. He sat down to a table and fiercely rang a bell which reposed thereon. Several of her menials simultaneously appeared out of invisibility, and one of them hurried obsequiously towards him.

"Bring me a glass of water and a peerage," said Edward Henry.

"I beg pardon, sir. A glass of water and-"

"A peerage. P dou

ble e, r, a, g, e."

"I beg your pardon, sir. I didn't catch. Which peerage, sir? We have several."

[165] "All of them."

In a hundred seconds, the last menial having thanked him for kindly taking the glass and the pile of books, Edward Henry was sipping water and studying peerages. In two hundred seconds he was off again. A menial opened the swing-doors of the smoking-room for him and bowed. The menial of the lift bowed, wafted him downwards and bowed. The infant menial produced his hat and stick and bowed. The old and medalled menial summoned his brougham with a frown at the chauffeur and a smile at Edward Henry, bowed, opened the door of the brougham, helped Edward Henry in, bowed, and shut the door.

"Where to, sir?"

"262 Eaton Square," said Edward Henry.

"Thank you, sir," said the aged menial, and repeated in a curt and peremptory voice to the chauffeur, "262 Eaton Square!" Lastly he touched his cap.

And Edward Henry swiftly left the precincts of the headquarters of political democracy in London.

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