His “Library manner” was modeled upon that which an eighteenth century portrait would conceivably possess, should witchcraft set the canvas breathing.
Also the story finds Colonel Musgrave in the company of his sister on a warm April day, whilst these two sat upon the porch of the Musgrave home in Lichfield, and Colonel Musgrave waited until it should be time to open the Library for the afternoon. And about them birds twittered cheerily, and the formal garden flourished as gardens thrive nowhere except in Lichfield, and overhead the sky was a turkis-blue, save for a few irrelevant clouds which dappled it here and there like splashes of whipped cream.
Yet, for all this, the colonel was ill-at-ease; and care was on his brow, and venom in his speech.
“And one thing,” Colonel Musgrave concluded, with decision, “I wish distinctly understood, and that is, if she insists on having young men loafing about her—as, of course, she will—she will have to entertain them in the garden. I won’t have them in the house, Agatha. You remember that Langham girl you had here last Easter?” he added, disconsolately —“the one who positively littered up the house with young men, and sang idiotic jingles to them at all hours of the night about the Bailey family and the correct way to spell chicken? She drove me to the verge of insanity, and I haven’t a doubt that this Patricia person will be quite as obstreperous. So, please mention it to her, Agatha—casually, of course—that, in Lichfield, when one is partial to either vocal exercise or amorous daliance, the proper scene of action is the garden. I really cannot be annoyed by her.”
“But, Rudolph,” his sister protested, “you forget she is engaged to the Earl of Pevensey. An engaged girl naturally wouldn’t care about meeting any young men.”
“H’m!” said the colonel, drily.
Ensued a pause, during which the colonel lighted yet another cigarette.
Then, “I have frequently observed,” he spoke, in absent wise, “that all young women having that peculiarly vacuous expression about the eyes—I believe there are misguided persons who describe such eyes as being ’dreamy,’—are invariably possessed of a fickle, unstable and coquettish temperament. Oh, no! You may depend upon it, Agatha, the fact that she contemplates purchasing the right to support a peculiarly disreputable member of the British peerage will not hinder her in the least from making advances to all the young men in the neighborhood.”
Miss Musgrave was somewhat ruffled. She was a homely little woman with nothing of the ordinary Musgrave comeliness. Candor even compels the statement that in her pudgy swarthy face there was a droll suggestion of the pug-dog.