At first Angela, not being accustomed to little jokes of the sort, did not understand what his intentions were, but as soon as she did, being an extremely powerful young woman, she soon put a stop to them, shaking George away from her so sharply by a little swing of her lithe body, that, stumbling over a footstool in his rapid backward passage, he in a trice measured his length upon the floor. Seeing what she had done, Angela turned and fled after her father.
As for Arthur, the scene was too much for his risible nerves, and he fairly roared with laughter, whilst even Lady Bellamy went as near to it as she ever did.
George rose white with wrath.
“Mr. Heigham,” he said, “I see nothing to laugh at in an accident.”
“Don’t you?” replied Arthur. “I do; it is just the most ludicrous accident that I ever saw.”
George turned away muttering something that it was perhaps as well his guest did not hear, and at once began to attack Lady Bellamy.
“My dear George,” was her rejoinder, “let this little adventure teach you that it is not wise for middle-aged men to indulge in gallantries towards young ladies, and especially young ladies of thews and sinews. Good-night.”
At the same moment the footman announced that the dog-cart which Arthur had ordered was waiting for him.
“Good-by, Mr. Heigham, good-by,” said George, with angry sarcasm. “Within twenty-four hours you have killed my favourite dog, taken offence at my well-meant advice, and ridiculed my misfortune. If we should ever meet again, doubtless you will have further surprises in store for me;” and, without giving Arthur time to make any reply, he left the room.
Early on the day following Arthur’s departure from Isleworth, Lady Bellamy received a note from George requesting her, if convenient, to come and see him that morning, as he had something rather important to talk to her about.
“John,” she said to her husband at breakfast, “do you want the brougham this morning?”
“Because I am going over to Isleworth.”
“Hadn’t you better take the luggage-cart too, and your luggage in it, and live there altogether? It would save trouble, sending backwards and forwards,” suggested her husband, with severe sarcasm.
Lady Bellamy cut the top off an egg with a single clean stroke—all her movements were decisive—before she answered.
“I thought,” she said, “that we had done with that sort of nonsense some years ago; are you going to begin it again?”
“Yes, Lady Bellamy, I am. I am not going to stand being bullied and jeered at by that damned scoundrel Caresfoot any more. I am not going to stand your eternal visits to him.”
“You have stood them for twenty years; rather late in the day to object now, isn’t it?” she remarked, coolly, beginning her egg.