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A Prince of Sinners by E. Phillips Oppenheim

Bullsom glanced around the room


Mr.

Bullsom shook his head.

"Haven't had time," he answered. "Brooks had so much to say to me. You knew all about our land company, Brooks, of course? You did a bit of conveyancing for us.

"Of course I did," Brooks answered, "and I told you from the first that you were going to make a lot of money by it."

Mr. Bullsom glanced around the room. The two maid-servants were at the sideboard.

"Guess how much."

Brooks shook his head.

"I never knew your exact share," he said.

"It's half a million," Mr. Bullsom said, pulling down his waistcoat, and squaring himself to the table. "Not bad, eh, for a country spec?"

"It's wonderful," Brooks admitted. "I congratulate you heartily."

"Thanks," Mr. Bullsom answered.

"We want papa to buy a house in the country, and go to town for the season," Selina said. "So long as we can afford it I am dying to get out of Medchester. It is absolutely the most commercial town I have ever been in.

"Your father should stand for Parliament himself," Brooks suggested.

It is really possible that Mr. Bullsom, being a man governed entirely by one idea at a time,

had never seriously contemplated the possibility of himself stepping outside the small arena of local politics. It is certain at any rate that Brooks' words came to him as an inspiration. He stared for a moment into his glass--then at Brooks. Finally he banged the table with the flat of his hand.

"It's an idea!" he exclaimed. "Why not?"

"Why not, indeed?" Brooks answered. "You'd be a popular candidate for the borough."

"I'm chairman of the committee," Mr. Bullsom declared; "I'll propose myself. I've taken the chair at political dinners and meetings for the last twenty years. I know the runs, and the people of Medchester know me. Why not, indeed? Mr. Brooks, sir, you're a genius."

"You 'ave given him something to think about," Mrs. Bullsom murmured, amiably. "I'd be willing enough but for the late hours. They never did agree with Peter--did they? He's always been such a one for his rest."

Mr. Bullsom's thumbs made their accustomed pilgrimage.

"In the service of one's country," he said, "one should be prepared to make sacrifices. The champagne, Amy. Besides, one can always sleep in the morning."

Selina and Louise exchanged glances, and Selina, as the elder, gave the project her languid approval.

"It would be nice for us in a way," she remarked. "Of course you would have a house in London then, papa, and being an M.P. you would get cards for us to a lot of 'at homes' and things. Only I wish you were a Conservative."

"A Liberal is much more fashionable than he was," Brooks assured her, cheerfully.

"Fashionable! I know the son of a Marquis, a Lord himself, who's a Liberal, and a good one," Mr. Bullsom remarked, with a wink to Brooks.

"Well, my dears," Mrs. Bullsom said, making an effort to rise, and failing at the first attempt, "shall we leave the gentlemen to talk about it over their wine?

"Oh, you sit down again, mother," Selina directed.

"That sort of thing's quite old-fashioned, isn't it, Mr. Brooks? We're going to stay with you. You can smoke. Ann, bring the cigars."


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