[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]
.‘It’s worth trying,’ said Chrystal.‘It must be tried.’Brown had been watching me as I answered.Then he watched Chrystal, and sank into silence, his chin set so that one noticed the heavy, powerful jowl.He thought for some time before he spoke.‘I’ll join a discussion if you arrange one.I don’t like it but I’ll join in.’ He had weighed it up.He saw that, with skill and luck, it might turn out well for Jago.He saw the danger more clearly than anyone there.But he was apprehensive that, if he did not join, Chrystal might make an overture on his own account.He added: ‘I shan’t feel free to express myself enthusiastically if we do meet the other side.Unless they put it all plain and above board.And I shall not want to bring any pressure on the two candidates.’‘So much the better.If you and I disagree, they’ll feel there isn’t a catch in it,’ said Chrystal, with a tough, active, friendly smile.27: Conference of SixNext morning Chrystal was busy paying visits to some of the other side.He saw Brown and me before lunch, and announced that he had arranged a conference for the coming Sunday night.There was a crowd dining that Sunday, and I heard Despard-Smith’s usual grating protest – ‘all avoiding the cold supper at home’; the number of diners that night helped to disguise the gap when six of us left after hall, but even so I wondered whether any suspicious eyes had noticed us.We walked through the second court to Chrystal’s rooms.It was an autumn night of placid loveliness; an unlighted window threw back a reflection of the hunter’s moon; our shadows were black before us, and the old building rested in the soft radiance of the night.It was warm, but Chrystal had a bright fire burning.His sitting-room was comfortable, rather in the fashion of a club; on a small table, a pile of periodicals was stacked with Chrystal’s unexpected, old-maidish tidiness; upon the walls stood out several cases with stuffed birds inside, which he had shot himself.‘Do you want to bring chairs by the fire?’ said Chrystal.‘Or shall we get round the table?’‘I suggest round the table, if you please,’ said Winslow.‘Your fire is so remarkably hospitable, my dear Dean.Almost excessively hospitable for this particular night, perhaps.’Chrystal did not reply.He seemed resolved from the beginning not to be drawn by Winslow.With a plan in his mind, his temper had become much more level.So we sat round the table away from the fire – Despard-Smith, Winslow, and Francis Getliffe on one side, Brown and I on the other.Before Chrystal took the chair at the head, he said he could not offer us Brown’s variety of drinks, and filled for each of us a stiffish tumbler of whisky.We all drank, no one had begun to talk, while Chrystal packed and lit his pipe.Suddenly he said: ‘We’ve reached a stalemate over this election.Do you agree?’‘It looks like it,’ said Francis Getliffe.‘How do you all regard it?’ said Chrystal.‘I regard it as disastrous,’ Despard-Smith replied.His expression was lugubrious, his voice solemn; but he had already nearly finished his glass, and he was watching each word and movement on our side of the table.‘It makes me think slightly less warmly than usual,’ said Winslow, ‘of the mental equipment of some of my colleagues.’‘That is amusing,’ said Chrystal, but he did not pronounce the word with his customary venom.‘But it doesn’t get us anywhere, Winslow.We shan’t get far if we start scoring points off one another.’‘I associate myself with you, Dean,’ said Despard-Smith, with bleak authority.‘I am still unenlightened as to where we are trying to get,’ said Winslow.‘Perhaps others know the purpose of this meeting better than I do.’‘It’s simple.’ Chrystal looked at the three of them.‘This election may go to the Visitor.Are you content?’‘The possibility hadn’t escaped us,’ said Winslow.‘I expect that most of us have thought of it occasionally,’ said Brown.‘But somehow we haven’t really believed that it would happen.’‘I have found it only too easy to believe,’ said Despard-Smith.‘Are you content?’ asked Chrystal.‘To be honest,’ said Winslow, ‘I could only answer that – if I knew the mysterious ways in which the Bishop’s mind would work.’‘I should consider it a c-catastrophe,’ said Despard-Smith.‘If we can’t settle our own business without letting the Bishop take a hand, I look upon it as a scandalous state of affairs.’‘I’m glad to hear you say that,’ said Chrystal.‘Now I’m going to put our cards on the table.If this election does go to the Visitor, I’ve got a view as to what will happen.It won’t mean your candidate getting in.It won’t mean ours.It will mean a third party foisted on us.’‘What do you think?’ Francis Getliffe asked Despard-Smith.‘I’m reluctantly bound to say that the Dean is right,’ said Despard-Smith.He spoke, like Chrystal a few days before, as though he had the certainty of inside knowledge.I wondered if he had discovered anything through his clerical acquaintances.I wondered also if it was from him that Chrystal had picked up the hint.They were supporting each other at this table.And Despard–Smith’s support was still, at the age of seventy, worth having.He was completely certain of his judgement.He poured himself another large whisky, and delivered an unshakeable opinion.‘I deeply regret to say it,’ said the old clergyman, ‘but the Dean is right.The way the Bench is appointed nowadays is of course disastrous.The average is wretchedly low.Even judged by that low average, this man doesn’t carry a level dish.He can be relied upon to inflict some unsuitable person upon us.’‘Do you want that?’ said Chrystal vigorously.‘I don’t,’ said Francis Getliffe.‘I don’t myself,’ said Chrystal.‘It doesn’t sound specially inviting,’ I said.Winslow gave a sarcastic smile.‘It somewhat depends,’ he said, ‘whether one would prefer either of our candidates to an unknown.I dare say some of you might.It may not be a completely universal view.’‘You mean there may be people who won’t mind it going to the Visitor, Winslow,’ said Chrystal.‘If they’re determined to keep one of the candidates out at any costs.’‘Precisely, my dear Dean,’ said Winslow.Brown looked from Winslow to Chrystal: his eyes were sharp but troubled as they moved from his opponent to his ally.‘I think the time has almost come to explain where we stand,’ he said.‘My own position hasn’t altered since last January.I’m convinced that Jago is the right man for us, and so I’ve never thought any further [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]