“Poor Spain and Italy!” I said, and I laughed.
“I like to hear you laugh, I don’t care what it is about,” said the Duke.
“I believe if I had your great position and traditions of family I should try to be a strong influence in the country. I would try to make a name for myself in history,” I said. “I would not be contented with being just a duke.”
“Ah, if I had you always near me perhaps I should,” and he sighed pathetically.
“Now, now! you are breaking your bargain, and talking personally, which will bore me.”
“But you began it. I was quietly discussing something—the evolution of the world, I think—when you gave me your opinion of what you would do in my case.”
“Yes, but I am permitted to be illogical, not being a man, and I am thinking it might cause me an interest if I had your case.”
“I will tell you what my grandfather, the tenth Duke, said to me when he was a very old man—you know his record, of course? He was one of the greatest politicians and litterateurs of his time, but had been in the Guards when a boy, and at sixteen fought at Waterloo. ’After having tasted the best of most things in life, Robert,’ he said, ’I can tell you there are only two things really worth having—women and fighting.’”
Before the end of my visit to Harley the Duke and I became fast friends, and while not possessing Antony’s lightness of wit or personal attractions, he is an agreeable companion and out of the ordinary run of young men. He promised me, as we said good-bye, that he would think of my words, and try to do something with his life to deserve my good opinion.
“Come here whenever you are lonely, dear child,” said my beautiful hostess, as we parted. “We delight in having you, and you must not mope at home all by yourself.”
The roads were too bad for the automobile, so I drove back to Ledstone in my victoria. It was a brilliant, frosty day, the 11th of December. Something in the air sent my spirits up. I felt if Mr. Budge had only been with me I could have told him I was growing younger. My first interest when I got home should be to alter my boudoir. Augustus had left me fairly provided with money, and I could, at all events, run up what bills I pleased. That thought brought me back to the last bill I had tried to incur.
What had been the result of my orders? Would the shop-people have told Lady Grenellen that a strange lady had sent her the tea-gowns? Would she have wondered about them and made inquiries? I had heard nothing further. I dismissed the subject and returned to my boudoir. I was just thinking deeply what change I should make as we drove up the avenue. Should I take away the mustard walls and do the whole thing white, or have it pale green, or what? Then we caught up a telegraph-boy. He handed me the orange envelope.