"What, then, is the danger you fear?"
"That he will offend all the important party leaders in order to conciliate unimportant ones, perhaps sentimental ones, like your friend French; that he will make foolish appointments without taking advice. By the way, have you seen French to-day?"
"No," replied Madeleine; "I think he must be sore at your treatment of him last evening. You were very rude to him."
"Not a bit," said Ratcliffe; "these reformers need it. His attack on me was meant for a challenge. I saw it in his manner.
"But is reform really so impossible as you describe it? Is it quite hopeless?"
"Reform such as he wants is utterly hopeless, and not even desirable."
Mrs. Lee, with much earnestness of manner, still pressed her question:
"Surely something can be done to check corruption. Are we for ever to be at the mercy of thieves and ruffians? Is a respectable government impossible in a democracy?"