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The History of Sir Richard Calmady: a Romance . Malet, Lucas, 1852–1931.
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A FAMILY council was in course of holding in the lofty white‐and‐gold boudoir, overlooking the Park, in Albert Gate. Lady Louisa Barking had summoned it. She had also exercised a measure of selection among intending members. For instance Lady Margaret and Lady Emily—the former having a disposition, in the opinion of her elder sister, to put herself forward and support the good cause with more zeal than discretion, the latter being but a weak‐kneed supporter of the cause at best—were summarily dismissed.

“It was really perfectly unnecessary to discuss this sort of thing before the younger girls,” she said. “It put them out of their place and rather rubbed the freshness off their minds. And then they would chatter among themselves. And it all became a little foolish and missy. They never knew when to stop.”

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One member of the Quayle family, and that a leading one, had taken his dismissal before it was given and, with a nice mixture of defective moral‐courage and good common‐sense, had removed himself bodily from the neighbourhood of the scene of action. Lord Shotover was still in London. Along with the payment of his debts had come a remarkable increase of cheerfulness. He made no more allusions to the unpleasant subject of cutting his throat, while the proposed foreign tour had been relegated to a vague future. It seemed a pity not to see the season out. It would be little short of a crime to miss Goodwood. He might go out with Decies to India in the autumn, when that young soldier’s leave had expired, and look Guy up a bit. He would rather like a turn at pig‐sticking—and there were plenty of pig, he understood, in the neighbourhood of Agra, where his brother was now stationed. On the morning in question, Lord Shotover, in excellent spirits, had walked down Piccadilly with his father, from his rooms in Jermyn Street to Albert Gate. The elder gentleman, arriving from Westchurch by an early train, had solaced himself with a share of the by no means ascetic breakfast of which his eldest son was partaking at a little after half‐past ten. It was very much too good a breakfast for a person in Lord Shotover’s existing financial position—so indeed were the rooms—so, in respect of locality, was Jermyn Street itself. Lord Fallowfeild knew this, no man better. Yet he was genuinely pleased, impressed even, by the luxury with which his erring son was surrounded, and proceeded to praise his cook, praise his valet’s waiting at table, praise some fine, old, sporting prints upon the wall. He went so far, indeed, as to chuckle discreetly—immaculately faithful husband though he was—over certain photographs of ladies, more fair and kind than wise, which were stuck in the frame of the looking‐glass over the chimney‐piece. In return for which acts of good‐fellowship Lord Shotover accompanied him as far as the steps of the mansion in Albert Gate. There he paused, remarking with the most disarming frankness:—

“I would come in. I want to awfully, I assure you. I quite agree with you about all this affair, you know, and I should uncommonly like to let the others know it. But, between ourselves, Louisa’s been so short with me lately, so infernally short—if you’ll pardon my saying so—that it’s become downright disagreeable to me to run across her. So I’m afraid I might only make matters worse all round, don’t you know, if I put in an appearance this morning.”

“Has she, though?” ejaculated Lord Fallowfeild, in reference page: 306 presumably to his eldest daughter’s reported shortness. “My dear boy, don’t think of it. I wouldn’t have you exposed to unnecessary unpleasantness on any account.”

Then, as he followed the groom‐of‐the‐chambers up the bare, white, marble staircase—which struck almost vault‐like in its chill and silence, after the heat and glare and turmoil of the great thoroughfare without—he added to himself:—

“Good fellow, Shotover. Has his faults, but upon my word, when you come to think of it, so have all of us. Very good‐hearted, sensible fellow at bottom, Shotover. Always responds when you talk rationally to him. No nonsense about him.”—His lordship sighed as he climbed the marble stair. “Great comfort to me at times Shotover. Shows very proper feeling on the present occasion, but naturally feels a diffidence about expressing it.”

Thus, in the end, it happened that the family council consisted only of the lady of the house, her sister Lady Alicia Winterbotham, Mr. Ludovic Quayle, and the parent whom all three of them were, each in their several ways, so perfectly willing to instruct in his duty towards his children.

Ludovic, perhaps, displayed less alacrity than usual in offering good advice to his father. His policy was rather that of masterly inactivity. Indeed, as the discussion waxed hot—his sisters’ voices rising slightly in tone, while Lord Fallowfeild’s replies disclosed a vein of dogged obstinacy—he withdrew from the field of battle and moved slowly round the room staring abstractedly at the pictures. There was a seductive, female head by Greuze, a couple of reposeful landscapes by Morland, a little Constable—waterways, trees, and distant woodland, swept by wind and weather. But upon these the young man bestowed scant attention. That which fascinated his gaze was a series of half‐length portraits, in oval frames, representing his parents, himself, his sisters, and brothers. These portraits were the work of a lady whose artistic gifts, and whose prices, were alike modest. They were in coloured chalks, and had, after adorning her own sitting‐room for a number of years, been given, as a wedding present, by Lady Fallowfeild to her eldest daughter. Mr. Quayle reviewed them leisurely now, looking over his shoulder now and again to note how the tide of battle rolled, and raising his eyebrows in mute protest when the voices of the two ladies became more than usually elevated.

“You see, papa, you have not been here”—Lady Louisa was saying.

“No, I haven’t,” interrupted Lord Fallowfeild. “And very page: 307 much I regret that I haven’t. Should have done my best to put a stop to this engagement at the outset—before there was any engagement at all, in fact.”

“And so you cannot possibly know how the whole thing—any breaking off I mean—would be regarded.”

“Can’t I, though?” said Lord Fallowfeild. “I know perfectly well how I should regard it myself.”

“You do not take the advantages sufficiently into consideration, papa. Of course with their enormous wealth they can afford to do anything.”—Mr. Winterbotham’s income was far from princely at this period, and Lady Alicia was liable to be at once envious of, and injured by, the riches of others. Her wardrobe was limited. She was, this morning, vexatiously conscious of a warmer hue in the back pleats than in the front breadth of her mauve, cashmere dress, sparsely decorated with bows of but indifferently white ribbon.—“It has enabled them to make an immense success. One really gets rather tired of hearing about them. But everybody goes to their house, you know, and says that he is perfectly charming.”

“Half the parents in London would jump at the chance of one of their girls making such a marriage,”—this from Lady Louisa.

Mr. Quayle looked over his shoulder and registered a conviction that his father did not belong to that active, parental moiety. He sat stubbornly on a straight‐backed, white‐and‐gold chair, his hands clasped on the top of his favourite, gold‐headed walking‐stick. He had refused to part with this weapon on entering the house. It gave him a sense of authority, of security. Meanwhile his habitually placid and infantile countenance wore an expression of the acutest worry.

“Would they, though?” he said, in response to his daughter’s information regarding the jumping moiety.—“Well, I shouldn’t. In point of fact, I don’t. All that you and Alicia tell me may be perfectly true, my dear Louisa. I would not, for a moment, attempt to discredit your statements. And I don’t wish to be intemperate.—Stupid thing intemperance, sign of weakness, intemperance.—Still I must repeat, and I do repeat, I repeat clearly, that I do not approve of this engagement.”

“Did I not prophesy long, long ago what my father’s attitude would be, Louisa?” Mr. Quayle murmured gently, over his shoulder.

Then he fell to contemplating the portrait of his brother Guy, aged seven, who was represented arrayed in a brown‐holland blouse of singular formlessness confined at the waist by page: 308 a black leather belt, and carrying, cupid‐like, in his hands a bow and arrows decorated with sky‐blue ribbons.—“Were my brothers and I actually such appallingly insipid‐looking little idiots?” he asked himself. “In that case the years do bring compensations. We really bear fewer outward traces of utter imbecility now.”

“I don’t wish to be harsh with you, my dears—never have been harsh, to my knowledge, with any one of my children. Believe in kindness. Always have been lenient with my children”—

“And, as indirect consequence thereof, note my eldest brother’s frequent epistles to the Hebrews!” commented Mr. Quayle softly. “The sweet simplicity of this counterfeit presentment of him, armed with a pea‐green bait‐tin and jointless fishing‐rod, hardly shadows forth the copious insolvencies of recent times!”

“Never have approved of harshness,” continued Lord Fallowfeild. “Still I do feel I should have been given an opportunity of speaking my mind sooner. I ought to have been referred to in the first place. It was my right. It was due to me. I don’t wish to assert my authority in a tyrannical manner. Hate tyranny, always have hated parental tyranny. Still I feel that it was due to me. And Shotover quite agrees with me. Talked in a very nice, gentlemanly, high‐minded way about it all this morning, did Shotover.”

The two ladies exchanged glances, drawing themselves up with an assumption of reticence and severity.

“Really!” exclaimed Lady Alicia. “It seems a pity, papa, that Shotover’s actions are not a little more in keeping with his conversation, then.”

But Lord Fallowfeild only grasped the head of his walking‐stick the tighter, congratulating himself the while on the unshakable firmness both of his mental and physical attitude.

“Oh! ah! yes,” he said, rising to heights of quite reckless defiance. “I know there is a great deal of prejudice against Shotover, just now, among you. He alluded to it this morning with a great deal of feeling. He was not bitter, but he is very much hurt, is Shotover. You are hard on him, Alicia. It is a painful thing to observe upon, but you are hard, and so is Winterbotham. I regret to be obliged to put it so plainly, but I was displeased by Winterbotham’s tone about your brother, last time you and he were down at Whitney from Saturday to Monday.”

“At all events, papa, George has never cost his parents a single penny since he left Balliol,” Lady Alicia replied, with some spirit and a very high colour.

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But Lord Fallowfeild was not to be beguiled into discussion of side issues, though his amiable face was crumpled and puckered by the effort to present an uncompromising front to the enemy.

“Some of you ought to have written and informed me as soon as you had any suspicion of what was likely to happen. Not to do so was underhand. I do not wish to employ strong language, but I do consider it underhand. Shotover tells me he would have written if he had only known. But, of course, in the present state of feeling, he was shut out from it all. Ludovic did know, I presume. And, I am sorry to say it, but I consider it very unhandsome of Ludovic not to have communicated with me.”

At this juncture Mr. Quayle desisted from contemplation of the family portraits and approached the belligerents, threading his way carefully between the many tables and chairs. There was much furniture, yet but few ornaments, in Lady Louisa’s boudoir. The young man’s long neck was directed slightly forward and his expression was one of polite inquiry.

“It is very warm this morning,” he remarked parenthetically, “and, as a family, we appear to feel it. You did me the honour to refer to me just now, I believe, my dear father? Since my two younger sisters have been banished, it has happily become possible to hear both you, and myself, speak. You were saying?”

“That you might very properly have written and told me about this business, and given me an opportunity of expressing my opinion before things reached a head.”

Mr. Quayle drew forward a chair and seated himself with mild deliberation. Lord Fallowfeild began to fidget.—“Very clever fellow, Ludovic,” he said to himself. “Wonderfully cool head”—and he became suspicious of his own wisdom in having made direct appeal to a person thus distinguished.

“I might have written, my dear father. I admit that I might. But there were difficulties. To begin with, I—in this particular—shared Shotover’s position. Louisa had not seen fit to honour me with her confidence.—I beg your pardon, Louisa, you were saying?—And so, you see, I really hadn’t anything to write about.”

“But—but—this young man”—Lord Fallowfeild was sensible of a singular reluctance to mention the name of his proposed son‐in‐law—“this young Calmady, you know, he’s an intimate friend of yours”—

“Difficulty number two. For I doubted how you would take the matter”—

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“Did you, though?” said Lord Fallowfeild, with an appreciable smoothing of crumples and puckers.

“I’m extremely attached to Dickie Calmady. And I did not want to put a spoke in his wheel.”

“Of course not, my dear boy, of course not. Nasty unpleasant business putting spokes in other men’s wheels, specially when they’re your friends. I acknowledge that.”

“I am sure you do,” Mr. Quayle replied, indulgently. “You are always on the side of doing the generous thing, my dear father,—when you see it.”

Here his lordship’s grasp upon the head of his walking‐stick relaxed sensibly.

“Thank you, Ludovic. Very pleasant thing to have one’s son say to one, I must say, uncommonly pleasant.”—Alas! he felt himself to be slipping, slipping. “Deucèd shrewd, diplomatic fellow, Ludovic,” he remarked to himself somewhat ruefully. All the same, the little compliment warmed him through. He knew it made for defeat, yet for the life of him he could not but relish it.—“Very pleasant,” he repeated. “But that’s not the point, my dear boy. Now, about this young fellow Calmady’s proposal for your sister Constance?”

Mr. Quayle looked full at the speaker, and for once his expression held no hint of impertinence or raillery.

“Dickie Calmady is as fine a fellow as ever fought, or won, an almost hopeless battle,” he said. “He is somewhat heroic, in my opinion. And he is very lovable.”

“Is he, though?” Lord Fallowfeild commented, quite gently.

“A woman who understood him, and had some idea of all he must have gone through, could not well help being very proud of him.”

Yet, even while speaking, the young man knew his advocacy to be but half‐hearted. He praised his friend rather than his friend’s contemplated marriage.—“But his dear, old lordship’s not very quick. He’ll never spot that,” he added mentally. And then he reflected that little Lady Constance was not very quick either. She might marry obediently, even gladly. But was it probable she would develop sufficient imagination ever to understand, and therefore be proud of, Richard Calmady?

“He is brilliant too,” Ludovic continued. “He is as well read as any man of his standing whom I know, and he can think for himself. And, when he is in the vein, he is unusually good company.”

“Everybody says he is extraordinarily agreeable,” broke in page: 311 Lady Alicia. “Old Lady Combmartin was saying only yesterday—George and I met her at the Aldhams’, Louisa, you know, at dinner—that she had not heard better conversation for years. And she was brought up among Macaulay, and Rogers, and all the Holland House set, so her opinion really is worth having.”

But Lord Fallowfeild’s grasp had tightened again upon his walking‐stick.

“Was she, though?” he said rather incoherently.

“Pray, from all this, don’t run away with the notion Calmady is a prig,” Ludovic interposed. “He is as keen a sportsman as you are—in as far, of course, as sport is possible for him.”

Here Lord Fallowfeild, finding himself somewhat hard pressed, sought relief in movement. He turned sideways, throwing one shapely leg across the other, grasping the supporting walking‐stick in his right hand, while with the left he laid hold of the back of the white‐and‐gold chair.

“Oh! ah! yes,” he said valiantly, directing his gaze upon the tree‐tops in the Park. “I quite accept all you tell me. I don’t want to detract from your friend’s merits—poor, mean sort of thing to detract from any man’s friend’s merits. Gentlemanlike young fellow Calmady, the little I have seen of him—reminds me of my poor friend his father. I liked his father. But, you see, my dear boy, there is—well, there’s no denying it, there is—and Shotover quite”—

“Of course, papa, we all know what you mean,” Lady Louisa interposed, with a certain loftiness and, it must be owned, asperity. “I have never pretended there was not something one had to get accustomed to. But really you forget all about it almost immediately—everyone does—one can see that —don’t they, Alicia? If you had met Sir Richard everywhere, as we have, this season, you would realise how very very soon that is quite forgotten.”

“Is it, though?” said Lord Fallowfeild somewhat incredulously. His face had returned to a sadly puckered condition.

“Yes, I assure you, nobody thinks of it, after just the first little shock, don’t you know,”—this from Lady Louisa.

“I think one feels it is not quite nice to dwell on a thing of that kind,” her sister chimed in, reddening again. “It ought to be ignored.”—From a girl, the speaker had enjoyed a reputation for great refinement of mind.

“I think it amounts to being more than not nice,” echoed Lady Louisa. “I think it is positively wrong, for nobody can page: 312 tell what accident may not happen to any of us at any moment. And so I am not at all sure that it is not actually unchristian to make a thing like that into a serious objection.”

“You know, papa, there must be deformed people in some families, just as there is consumption or insanity.”

“Or under‐breeding, or attenuated salaries,” Mr. Quayle softly murmured. “It becomes evident, my dear father, you must not expect too much of sons, or I of brothers, in‐law.”

“Think of old Lord Sokeington—I mean the great uncle of the present man, of course—of his temper,” Lady Louisa proceeded, regardless of ironical comment. “It amounted almost to mania. And yet Lady Dorothy Hellard would certainly have married him. There never was any question about it.”

“Would she, though? Bad, old man, Sokeington. Never did approve of Sokeington.”

“Of course she would. Mrs. Crookenden, who always has been devoted to her, told me so.”

“Did she, though?” said Lord Fallowfeild. “But the marriage was broken off, my dear.”

He made this remark triumphantly, feeling it showed great acuteness.

“Oh, dear no! indeed it wasn’t,” his daughter replied. “Lord Sokeington behaved in the most outrageous manner. At the last moment he never proposed to her at all. And then it came out that for years he had been living with one of the still‐room maids.”

“Louisa!” cried Lady Alicia, turning scarlet.

“Had he, though? The old scoundrel!”

“Papa,” cried Lady Alicia.

“So he was, my dear. Very bad old man, Sokeington. Very amusing old man too, though.”

And, overcome by certain reminiscences, Lord Fallowfeild chuckled a little, shamefacedly. His second daughter thereupon arranged the folds of her mauve cashmere, with bent head.—“It is very clear papa and Shotover have been together to‐day,” she thought. “Shotover’s influence over papa is always demoralising. It’s too extraordinary the subjects men joke about and call amusing when they get together.”

A pause followed, a brief cessation of hostilities, during which Mr. Quayle looked inquiringly at his three companions.

“Alicia fancies herself shocked,” he said to himself, “and my father fancies himself wicked, and Louisa fancies herself a chosen vessel. Strong delusion is upon them all. The only page: 313 question is whose delusion is the strongest, and who, consequently, will first renew the fray? Ah! the chosen vessel! I thought as much.”

“You see, papa, one really must be practical,” Lady Louisa began in clear, emphatic tones. “We all know how you have spoiled Constance. She and Shotover have always been your favourites. But even you must admit that Shotover’s wretched extravagance has impoverished you, and helped to impoverish all your other children. And you must also admit, notwithstanding your partiality for Constance, that”—

“I want to see Connie. I want to hear from herself that she”—broke out Lord Fallowfeild. His kindly heart yearned over this ewe‐lamb of his large flock. But the eldest of the said flock interposed sternly.

“No, no,” she cried, “pray, papa, not yet. Connie is quite contented and reasonable—I believe she is out shopping just now, too. And while you are in this state of indecision yourself, it would be the greatest mistake for you to see her. It would only disturb and upset her—wouldn’t it, Alicia?”

And the lady thus appealed to assented. It is true that when she arrived at the great house in Albert Gate that morning she had found little Lady Constance with her pretty, baby face sadly marred by tears. But she had put that down to the exigencies of the situation. All young ladies of refined mind cried under kindred circumstances. Had she not herself wept copiously, for the better part of a week, before finally deciding to accept George Winterbotham? Moreover, a point of jealousy undoubtedly pricked Lady Alicia in this connection. She was far from being a cruel woman, but, comparing her own modest material advantages in marriage with the surprisingly handsome ones offered to her little sister, she could not be wholly sorry that the latter’s rose was not entirely without thorns. That the flower in question should have been thornless, as well as so very fine and large, would surely have trenched on injustice to herself. This thought had, perhaps unconsciously, influenced her when enlarging on the becomingness of a refined indifference to Sir Richard Calmady’s deformity. In her heart of hearts she was disposed, perhaps unconsciously, to hail rather than deplore the fact of that same deformity. For did it not tend subjectively to equalise her lot and that of her little sister, and modify the otherwise humiliating disparity of their respective fortunes? Therefore she capped Lady Louisa’s speech, by saying immediately:—

“Yes, indeed, papa, it would only be an unkindness to run page: 314 any risk of upsetting Connie. No really nice girl ever really quite likes the idea of marriage.”—

“Doesn’t she, though?” commented Lord Fallowfeild, with an air of receiving curious, scientific information.

“Oh, of course not! How could she? And then, papa, you know how you have always indulged Connie”—Lady Alicia’s voice was slightly peevish in tone. She was not in very good health at the present time, with the consequence that her face showed thin and bird‐like. While, notwithstanding the genial heat of the summer’s day, she presented a starved and chilly appearance.—“Always indulged Connie,” she repeated, “and that has inclined her to be rather selfish and fanciful.”

The above statements, both regarding his own conduct and the effect of that conduct upon his little ewe‐lamb, nettled the amiable nobleman considerably. He faced round upon the speaker with an intention of reprimand, but in so doing his eyes were arrested by his daughter’s faded dress and disorganised complexion. He relented.—“Poor thing looks ill,” he thought. “A man’s an unworthy brute who ever says a sharp word to a woman in her condition.”—And, before he had time to find a word other than sharp, Lady Louisa Barking returned to the charge.

“Exactly,” she asserted. “Alicia is perfectly right. At present Connie is quite reasonable. And all we entreat, papa, is that you will let her remain so, until you have made up your own mind. Do pray let us be dignified. One knows how the servants get hold of anything of this kind and discuss it, if there is any want of dignity or any indecision. That is too odious. And I must really think just a little of Mr. Barking and myself in the matter. It has all gone on in our house, you see. One must consider appearances, and with all the recent gossip about Shotover, we do not want another esclandre—the servants knowing all about it too. And then, with all your partiality for Constance, you cannot suppose she will have many opportunities of marrying men with forty or fifty thousand a year.”

“No, papa, as Louisa says, in your partiality for Connie you must not entirely forget the claims of your other children. She must not be encouraged to think exclusively of herself, and it is not fair that you should think exclusively of her. I know that George and I are poor, but it is through no fault of our own. He most honourably refuses to take anything from his mother, and you know how small my private income is. Yet no one can accuse George of lack of generosity. When any of my family want to come to us he always makes them welcome. Maggie page: 315 only left us last Thursday, and Emily comes to‐morrow. I know we can’t do much. It is not possible with our small means and establishment. But what little we can do, George is most willing should be done.”

“Excellent fellow Winterbotham,” Lord Fallowfeild put in soothingly. “Very steady, painstaking man Winterbotham.”

His second daughter looked at him reproachfully.

“Thank you, papa,” she said. “I own I was a little hurt just now by the tone in which you alluded to George.”

“Were you, though? I’m sure I’m very sorry, my dear Alicia. Hate to hurt anybody, specially one of my own children. Unnatural thing to hurt one of your own children. But you see this feeling of all of you about Shotover has been very painful to me. I never have liked divisions in families. Never know where they may lead to. Nasty, uncomfortable things divisions in families.”

“Well, papa, I can only say that divisions are almost invariably caused by a want of the sense of duty.”—Lady Louisa’s voice was stern. “And if people are over‐indulged they become selfish, and then, of course, they lose their sense of duty.”

“My sister is a notable logician,” Mr. Quayle murmured, under his breath. “If logic ruled life, how clear, how simple our course! But then, unfortunately, it doesn’t.”

“Shotover has really no one but himself to thank for any bitterness that his brothers and sisters may feel towards him. He has thrown away his chances, has got the whole family talked about in a most objectionable manner, and has been a serious encumbrance to you, and indirectly to all of us. We have all suffered quite enough trouble and annoyance already. And so I must protest, papa, I must very strongly and definitely protest, against Connie being permitted, still more encouraged, to do exactly the same thing.”

Lord Fallowfeild, still grasping his walking‐stick,—though he could not but fear that trusted weapon had proved faithless and sadly failed in its duty of support,—gazed distractedly at the speaker. Visions of Jewish money‐lenders, of ladies more fair and kind than wise, of guinea points at whist, of the prize ring, of Baden‐Baden, of Newmarket and Doncaster, arose confusedly before him. What the deuce,—he did not like bad language, but really,—what the dickens, had all these to do with his ewe‐lamb, innocent, little Constance, her virgin‐white body and soul, and her sweet, wide‐eyed prettiness?

“My dear Louisa, no doubt you know what you mean, but I give you my word I don’t,” he began.

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“Hear, hear, my dear father,” put in Mr. Quayle. “There I am with you. Louisa’s wing is strong, her range is great. I myself, on this occasion, find it not a little difficult to follow her.”

“Nonsense, Ludovic,” almost snapped the lady. “You follow me perfectly, or can do so if you use your common sense. Papa must face the fact, that Constance cannot afford—that we cannot afford to have her—throw away her chances, as Shotover has thrown away his. We all have a duty, not only to ourselves, but to each other. Inclination must give way to duty—though I do not say Constance exhibits any real disinclination to this marriage. She is a little flurried. As Alicia said just now, every really nice‐minded girl is flurried at the idea of marriage. She ought to be. I consider it only delicate that she should be. But she understands—I have pointed it out to her—that her money, her position, and those two big houses—Brockhurst and the one in Lowndes Square—will be of the greatest advantage to the girls and to her brothers. It is not as if she was nobody. The scullery‐maid can marry whom she likes, of course. But in our rank of life it is different. A girl is bound to think of her family, as well as of herself. She is bound to consider”—

The groom‐of‐the‐chambers opened the door and advanced solemnly across the boudoir to Lord Fallowfeild.

“Sir Richard Calmady is in the smoking‐room, my lord,” he said, “to see you.”