A look of anguish came over her face. Oh, how it hurt me to see her suffering!
“Dear grandmamma,” said, “do not think I mind. I have done and will do all you wish, and—and—as the Marquis said—it will not matter in a year.”
The Marquis, I believe, had been dozing, but at the sound of his name he looked up and spoke.
“Chere amie, you can indeed be proud of la belle debutante to-night; she was by far the most beautiful at the ball—sans exception! Even the adorable Lady Tilchester had not her grand air. Les demoiselles anglaises! Ce sont des fagotages inouis pour la plus part, with their movements of the wooden horse and their skins of the goddess! As for le fiance, il etait assez retenu, il avait pourtant l’air maussade, mais il se consolait avec du champagne—il fera un tres brave mari.”
The next day Augustus went to London by the early train. I fortunately saw the dog-cart coming, and rushed to tell Hephzibah to say I was not up if he stopped, which of course he did on his way to the station. He left a message for me. He would be back at half-past four, would come in to tea. The Marquis and I were to dine there in the evening, so I am sure that would be time enough to have seen him. Grandmamma said it was no doubt the engagement-ring he had gone to London to buy, and that I really must receive it with a good grace.
At about four o’clock, while I was reading aloud the oration of Bossuet on the funeral of Madame d’Orleans, the tuff-tuff-tuff of a motorcar was heard, and it drew up at our gate and out got Sir Antony Thornhirst and Lady Tilchester.
Although I could see them with the corner of my eye, and grandmamma could too, I should not have dared to have stopped my reading, and was actually in the middle of a sentence when Hephzibah announced them. I did not forget to make my reverence this time, and grandmamma half rose from her chair. Lady Tilchester has the most lovely manners. In a few minutes we all felt perfectly happy together, and she had told us how Sir Antony was so anxious to make grandmamma’s acquaintance, having discovered by chance that he was a connection of hers, that she—Lady Tilchester—had slipped away from her guests and brought him over in her new motor, and she trusted grandmamma would forgive her unannounced descent upon us. She also said how she wished she had heard before that we were in this neighborhood, that she might have months ago made our acquaintance, and could perhaps have been useful to us.
I shall always love her, her sweet voice and the beautiful diffidence of her manner to grandmamma, as though she were receiving a great honor by grandmamma’s reception of her. So different to Mrs. Gurrage’s patronizing vulgarity! I could see grandmamma was delighted with her.