‘So we are,’ said Jane. ’Not you, but most of us. I am.... You’re one of the few people he respects. Some day, perhaps, you’ll have to marry him, and cure him of biting his nails when he’s cross.... He thinks Johnny’s a profiteer, too, because of the ribbons and things. Johnny is. It’s in the blood. We’re grabbers. Can’t be helped.... Do you want the last walnut chocolate, old thing? If so, you’re too late.’
JANE AND CLARE
In the autumn of 1918, Jane, when she went home for week-ends, frequently found one Oliver Hobart there. Oliver Hobart was the new editor of Lord Pinkerton’s chief daily paper, and had been exempted from military service as newspaper staff. He was a Canadian; he had been educated at McGill University, admired Lord Pinkerton, his press, and the British Empire, and despised (in this order) the Quebec French, the Roman Catholic Church, newspapers which did not succeed, Little Englanders, and Lord Lansdowne.
‘A really beautiful face,’ said Lady Pinkerton, and so he had. Jane had seen it, from time to time during the last year, when she had called to see her father in the office of the Daily Haste.
One hot Saturday afternoon in August, 1918, she found him having tea with her family, in the shadow of the biggest elm. Jane looked at them in her detached way; Lord Pinkerton, neat and little, his white-spatted feet crossed, his head cocked to one side, like an intelligent sparrow’s; Lady Pinkerton, tall and fair and powdered, in a lilac silk dress, her large white hands all over rings, amethysts swinging from her ears; Clare (who had given up nursing owing to the strain, and was having a rest), slim and rather graceful, a little flushed from the heat, lying in a deck chair and swinging a buckled shoe, saying something ordinary and Clare-ish; Hobart sitting by her, a pale, Gibson young man, with his smooth fair hair brushed back, and lavender socks with purple clocks, and a clear, firm jaw. He was listening to Clare with a smile. You could not help liking him; his was the sort of beauty which, when found in either man or woman, makes so strong an appeal to the senses of the sex other than that of the possessor that reason is all but swamped. Besides, as Lord Pinkerton said, Hobart was a dear, nice fellow.
He was at Sherards for that week-end because Lord Pinkerton was just making him editor of the Daily Haste. Before that, he had been on the staff, a departmental editor, and a leader-writer. (’Mr. Hobart will go far,’ said Lady Pinkerton sometimes, when she read the leaders. ’I hope, on the contrary,’ said Lord Pinkerton, ’that he will stay where he is. It is precisely the right spot. That was the trouble with Carruthers; he went too far. So he had to go altogether.’ He gave his thin little snigger).
Anyhow, here was Hobart, this Saturday afternoon, having tea in the garden. Jane saw him through the mellow golden sweetness of shadow and light.