The Kingdom of the Blind
Lord Romsey, after his luncheon-party, spent an hour at his official residence in
Whitehall and made two other calls on his way home. His secretary met him in the
spacious hall of his house in Portland Square, a few moments after he had resigned his
coat and hat to the footman.
"There is a gentleman here to see you who says that he made an appointment by
telephone, sir," he announced. "His name is Sidney--the Reverend Horatio Sidney, he
Lord Romsey stood for a moment without reply. His lips had come together in a hard,
unpleasant line. It was obvious that this was by no means a welcome visitor.
"I gave no appointment, Ainsley," he remarked. "I simply said that I would see the
gentleman when he arrived in England. You had better bring him to my study," he
continued, "and be careful that no one interrupts us."
The young man withdrew and the Cabinet Minister made his way to his study. A little of
the elasticity, however, had gone from his footsteps and he seated himself before his desk
with the air of a man who faces a disagreeable quarter of an hour. He played for a
moment with a pen-holder.
"The skeleton in the cupboard," he muttered to himself gloomily. "Even the greatest of
us," he added, with a momentary return of his more inflated self, "have them."
There was a knock at the door and the secretary reappeared, ushering in this undesired
"This is Mr. Sidney, sir," he announced quietly.
The Cabinet Minister rose in his place and held out his hand in his best official style, a
discrete mixture of reserve and condescension. His manner changed, however, the
moment the door was closed. He withdrew his hand, which the other had made no
attempt to grasp.
"I am according you the interview you desire," he said, pointing to a chair, "but I shall be
glad if you will explain the purport of your visit in as few words as possible. You will, I
hope, appreciate the fact that your presence here is a matter of grave embarrassment to
Mr. Sidney bowed. He was a tall and apparently an elderly man, dressed with the utmost
sobriety. He accepted the chair without undue haste, adjusted a pair of horn-rimmed
spectacles and took some papers from his pocket.