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3. The Man Who Was Thursday (continued)
"Comrade Gregory," he said, "I suppose this man is a delegate?"
Gregory, taken by surprise, looked down and muttered the name of Syme; but Syme replied almost pertly--
"I am glad to see that your gate is well enough guarded to make it hard for anyone to be here who was not a delegate."
The brow of the little man with the black beard was, however, still contracted with something like suspicion.
"What branch do you represent?" he asked sharply.
"I should hardly call it a branch," said Syme, laughing; "I should call it at the very least a root."
"What do you mean?"
"The fact is," said Syme serenely, "the truth is I am a Sabbatarian. I have been specially sent here to see that you show a due observance of Sunday."
The little man dropped one of his papers, and a flicker of fear went over all the faces of the group. Evidently the awful President, whose name was Sunday, did sometimes send down such irregular ambassadors to such branch meetings.
"Well, comrade," said the man with the papers after a pause, "I suppose we'd better give you a seat in the meeting?"
"If you ask my advice as a friend," said Syme with severe benevolence, "I think you'd better."
When Gregory heard the dangerous dialogue end, with a sudden safety for his rival, he rose abruptly and paced the floor in painful thought. He was, indeed, in an agony of diplomacy. It was clear that Syme's inspired impudence was likely to bring him out of all merely accidental dilemmas. Little was to be hoped from them. He could not himself betray Syme, partly from honour, but partly also because, if he betrayed him and for some reason failed to destroy him, the Syme who escaped would be a Syme freed from all obligation of secrecy, a Syme who would simply walk to the nearest police station. After all, it was only one night's discussion, and only one detective who would know of it. He would let out as little as possible of their plans that night, and then let Syme go, and chance it.
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