The Kingdom of the Blind HTML version

Chapter 16
The two men who had walked up together arm in arm from Downing Street, stood for
several moments in Pall Mall before separating. The pressman who was passing yearned
for the sunlight in his camera. One of the greatest financiers of the city in close
confabulation with Mr. Gordon Jones, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was an
interesting, almost an historical sight.
"It is a source of the greatest satisfaction to me, Sir Alfred," the Minister was saying
earnestly, "to find such royal and whole-hearted support in the city. I am afraid," he went
on, with a little twinkle in his eyes, "that there are times when I have scarcely been
popular in financial circles."
"We have hated you like poison," the other assured him, with emphasis.
"The capitalists must always hate the man who tries to make wealth pay its just share in
the support of the Empire," Mr. Gordon Jones remarked. "The more one has, the less one
likes to part with it. However, those days have passed. You bankers have made my task
easier at every turn. You have met me in every possible way. To you personally, Sir
Alfred, I feel that some day I shall have to express my thanks--my thanks and the thanks
of the nation--in a more tangible form."
"You are very kind," the banker acknowledged. "Times like this change everything. We
remember only that we are Englishmen."
The Minister hailed a passing taxi and disappeared. The banker strolled slowly along Pall
Mall and passed through the portals of an august-looking club. The hall-porter relieved
him of his coat and hat with great deference. As he was crossing the hall, after having
exchanged greetings with several friends, he came face to face with Surgeon-Major
Thomson. The latter paused.
"I am afraid you don't remember me, Sir Alfred," he said, "but I have been hoping for an
opportunity of thanking you personally for the six ambulance cars you have endowed. I
am Surgeon-Major Thomson, chief inspector of Field Hospitals."
Sir Alfred held out his hand affably.
"I remember you perfectly, Major," he declared. "I am very glad that my gift is
acceptable. Anything one can do to lessen the suffering of those who are fighting our
battle, is almost a charge upon our means."
"It is very fortunate for us that you feel like that," the other replied. "Thank you once
more, sir."
The two men separated. Sir Alfred turned to the hall-porter.