A savage look stamped itself upon Augustus’s face. Would he vent his anger on her, presently, or should I be the recipient of it? Time would show.
Myrlton is a glorious place, hundreds and hundreds of years old, and full of traditions and ghosts, with a real draw-bridge and huge baronial hall, with the raised part, where they eat above the salt in by-gone days. Everything is rather shabby and stiffly arranged, and, except in the Duke’s own special rooms, it looks as if no woman had been there for years.
The Duke is a perfect host. He seemed delighted to see me, and soon let me know that his only interest in the party was on account of my presence among them. I felt soothed and flattered.
Lady Grenellen was in tearing spirits.
“Berty, I have got her,” she laughed, as she deliberately drew a chair, and divided the Duke and me, who were sitting a little apart.
“She isn’t at all bad, and I have asked her and her aunt to come here to-morrow,” she continued. “I told them I was giving the party, and that they should be my guests. The aunt knows what for, and I expect the girl, too. She has at least fifty thousand a year. But she is American. There was nothing in the English market rich enough. A paltry ten thousand would be no use to you.”
“Oh, Cordelia, I told you I would not have an American,” said the Duke, reproachfully. “Think how jumpy they are, and I can’t explain to her that I simply want her to stay at home and have lots of children and do the house up.”
“Oh yes, you can. She is from the West, and a country-girl, and, I assure you, those Americans are quite accustomed to make a bargain. You can settle everything of that sort with the aunt.”
“Mercifully, Margaret Tilchester is arriving to-morrow, too,” sighed the Duke. “She has such admirable judgment. I shall be able to rely upon her.”
“Ungrateful boy!” laughed Lady Grenellen. “After the trouble I have taken to get her, too. Now I am going to have a sleep before dinner. By-bye.” And she sauntered off, accompanied by the beautiful young man.
Augustus stood biting the ends of his stubbly mustache.
No one had to bother about what the other people were doing here. The guests did not sit round waiting to be entertained; they all seemed perfectly at home, and did what they pleased.
The party was not large, but quite delightfully composed. I felt I should enjoy my evening. Before going down to dinner, Augustus came into my room. He hoped, he said, that I had some jewels on.
My appearance pleased him. He came up and kissed me. I could not speak to him, as McGreggor was in the room, and afterwards it seemed too late. Should I leave the affair in silence? Oh, if I had some one to advise me!—Lady Tilchester, perhaps. And yet how, so soon after my marriage, could I say to her: “My husband pays for another woman’s clothes, and is, I suppose, her lover. But beyond the insult of the case, the disgust and contempt it fills me with, I am not hurt a bit, and am only thankful for anything that keeps him away from me.” What would she think? Would she understand, because of Lord Tilchester and Babykins, or would it, being so soon, shock her? I wish I knew. Perhaps it is as my mother-in-law said, and I am not a flesh-and-blood woman.