The Man Who Knew Too Much HTML version

8. The Vengeance Of The Statue
It was on the sunny veranda of a seaside hotel, overlooking a pattern of flower beds and a
strip of blue sea, that Horne Fisher and Harold March had their final explanation, which
might be called an explosion.
Harold March had come to the little table and sat down at it with a subdued excitement
smoldering in his somewhat cloudy and dreamy blue eyes. In the newspapers which he
tossed from him on to the table there was enough to explain some if not all of his
emotion. Public affairs in every department had reached a crisis. The government which
had stood so long that men were used to it, as they are used to a hereditary despotism, had
begun to be accused Of blunders and even of financial abuses. Some said that the
experiment of attempting to establish a peasantry in the west of England, on the lines of
an early fancy of Horne Fisher's, had resulted in nothing but dangerous quarrels with
more industrial neighbors. There had been particular complaints of the ill treatment of
harmless foreigners, chiefly Asiatics, who happened to be employed in the new scientific
works constructed on the coast. Indeed, the new Power which had arisen in Siberia,
backed by Japan and other powerful allies, was inclined to take the matter up in the
interests of its exiled subjects; and there had been wild talk about ambassadors and
ultimatums. But something much more serious, in its personal interest for March himself,
seemed to fill his meeting with his friend with a mixture of embarrassment and
Perhaps it increased his annoyance that there was a certain unusual liveliness about the
usually languid figure of Fisher. The ordinary image of him in March's mind was that of a
pallid and bald-browed gentleman, who seemed to be prematurely old as well as
prematurely bald. He was remembered as a man who expressed the opinions of a
pessimist in the language of a lounger. Even now March could not be certain whether the
change was merely a sort of masquerade of sunshine, or that effect of clear colors and
clean-cut outlines that is always visible on the parade of a marine resort, relieved against
the blue dado of the sea. But Fisher had a flower in his buttonhole, and his friend could
have sworn he carried his cane with something almost like the swagger of a fighter. With
such clouds gathering over England, the pessimist seemed to be the only man who carried
his own sunshine.
"Look here," said Harold March, abruptly, "you've been no end of a friend to me, and I
never was so proud of a friendship before; but there's something I must get off my chest.
The more I found out, the less I understood how y ou could stand it. And I tell you I'm
going to stand it no longer."
Horne Fisher gazed across at him gravely and attentively, but rather as if he were a long
way off.
"You know I always liked you," said Fisher, quietly, "but I also respect you, which is not
always the same thing. You may possibly guess that I like a good many people I don't