“She’d scold me,” said Adelaide, looking beautifully martyred. Then turning to her husband, she asked. “Will it be very difficult, Vincent, getting papa off?” She wanted it to be difficult, she wanted him to give her material out of which she could form a picture of him as a savior; but he only shook his head and said:
“That young man is in love with Mathilde.”
“O Vin! Those children?”
Mr. Lanley pricked up his ears like a terrier.
“In love?” he exclaimed. “And who is he? Not one of the East Sussex Waynes, I hope. Vulgar people. They always were; began life as auctioneers in my father’s time. Is he one of those, Adelaide?”
“I have no idea who he is, if any one,” said Adelaide. “I never saw or heard of him before this afternoon.”
“And may I ask,” said her father, “if you intend to let your daughter become engaged to a young man of whom you know nothing whatsoever?”
Adelaide looked extremely languid, one of her methods of showing annoyance.
“Really, Papa,” she said, “the fact that he has come once to pay an afternoon visit to Mathilde does not, it seems to me, make an engagement inevitable. My child is not absolutely repellent, you know, and a good many young men come to the house.” Then suddenly remembering that her oracle had already spoken on this subject, she asked more humbly, “What was it made you say he was in love, Vin?”
“Just an impression,” said Farron.
Mr. Lanley had been thinking it over.
“It was not the custom in my day,” he began, and then remembering that this was one of his sister Alberta’s favorite openings, he changed the form of his sentence. “I never allowed you to see stray young men—”
His daughter interrupted him.
“But I always saw them, Papa. I used to let them come early in the afternoon before you came in.”
In his heart Mr. Lanley doubted that this had been a regular custom, but he knew it would be unwise to argue the point; so he started fresh.
“When a young man is attentive to a girl like Mathilde—”
“But he isn’t,” said Adelaide. “At least not what I should have called attentive when I was a girl.”
“Your experience was not long, my dear. You were married at Mathilde’s age.”
“You may be sure of one thing, Papa, that I don’t desire an early marriage for my daughter.”
“Very likely,” returned her father, getting up, and buttoning the last button of his coat; “but you may have noticed that we can’t always get just what we most desire for our children.”
When he had gone, Vincent looked at his wife and smiled, but smiled without approval. She twisted her shoulders.
“Oh, I suppose so,” she said; “but I do so hate to be scolded about the way I bring up Mathilde.”
“Or about anything else, my dear.”
“I don’t hate to be scolded by you,” she returned. “In fact, I sometimes get a sort of servile enjoyment from it. Besides,” she went on, “as a matter of fact, I bring Mathilde up particularly well, quite unlike these wild young women I see everywhere else. She tells me everything, and I have perfectly the power of making her hate any one I disapprove of. But you’ll try and find out something about this young man, won’t you, Vin?”