'I assure you, my dear fellow,' the journalist was saying, 'that if you are in want of a religion--'
'Which I am not,' interjected George, sullenly.
'If you are in want of a new sensation, then, you will find this new Church just the thing to suit you. It has now been opened nearly a month, and is rapidly becoming the fashion. At the service yesterday I saw, among other notabilities, both Tyndall and Huxley, Thomas Carlyle, Hermann Vezin the actor, John Mill the philosopher, Dottie Destrange of the Prince's, Labouchere, and two colonial bishops. There is an article on Bradley in this morning's "Telegraph," and his picture is going into next week's "Vanity Fair."'
'But the fellow is an atheist and a Radical!'
'My dear Craik, so am I!'
'Oh, you're different!' returned the other with a disagreeable laugh. 'Nobody believes you in earnest when you talk or write that kind of nonsense.'
'Whereas, you would say, Bradley is an enthusiast? Just so; and his enthusiasm is contagious. When I listen to him, I almost catch it myself, for half an hour. But you mistake altogether, by the way, when you call him atheistical, or even Radical. He is a Churchman still, though the Church has banged its door in his face, and his dream is to conserve all that is best and strongest in Christianity.'
'I don't know anything about that,' said Craik, savagely. 'All I know is that he's an infernal humbug, and ought to be lynched.'
'Pray don't abuse him! He is my friend, and a noble fellow.'
'I don't care whether he is your friend or not-he is a scoundrel.'
Cholmondeley made an angry gesture, then remembering who was speaking, shrugged his shoulders.
'Why, how has he offended you? Stop, though, I remember! The fair founder of his church is your cousin.'
'Yes,' answered the other with an oath, 'and she would have been my wife if he had not come in the way. It was all arranged, you know, and I should have had Alma and-and all her money; but she met him, and he filled her mind with atheism, and radicalism, and rubbish. A year ago, when he was kicked out of his living, I thought she was done with him; but he hadn't been gone a month before she followed him to London, and all this nonsense began. The governor has almost gone down on his knees to her, but it's no use. Fancy her putting down ten thousand pounds in solid cash for this New Church business; and not a day passes but he swindles her out of more.'
'Bradley is not a swindler,' answered the journalist quietly. 'For the rest, I suppose, that they will soon marry.'
'Not if I can help it! Marry that man! It would be a standing disgrace to the family.'
'But they are engaged, or something of that sort. As for its being a disgrace, that is rubbish. Why, Bradley might marry a duke's daughter if he pleased. Little Lady Augusta Knowles is crazy about him.'
True to his sarcastic instinct, Cholmondeley added, 'Of course I know the little woman has a hump, and has only just got over her grande passion for Montepulciano the opera singer. But a duke's daughter-think of that!'
George Craik only ground his teeth and made no reply.
Shortly afterwards the two men separated, Cholmondeley strolling to his office, Craik (whom we shall accompany) hailing a hansom and driving towards St. John's Wood.