“I could not help it, father,” she answered coolly. “He was with Mrs. Quest when I asked her, so I had to ask him too. Besides, I rather like Mr. Cossey, he is always so polite, and I don’t see why you should take such a violent prejudice against him. Anyhow, he is coming, and there is an end of it.”
“Cossey, Cossey,” said Harold, throwing himself into the breach, “I used to know that name.” It seemed to Ida that he winced a little as he said it. “Is he one of the great banking family?”
“Yes,” said Ida, “he is one of the sons. They say he will have half a million of money or more when his father, who is very infirm, dies. He is looking after the branch banks of his house in this part of the world, at least nominally. I fancy that Mr. Quest really manages them; certainly he manages the Boisingham branch.”
“Well, well,” said the Squire, “if they are coming, I suppose they are coming. At any rate, I can go out. If you are going home, Quaritch, I will walk with you. I want a little air.”
“Colonel Quaritch, you have not said if you will come to my party to-morrow, yet,” said Ida, as he stretched out his hand to say good-bye.
“Oh, thank you, Miss de la Molle; yes, I think I can come, though I play tennis atrociously.”
“Oh, we all do that. Well, good-night. I am so very pleased that you have come to live at Molehill; it will be so nice for my father to have a companion,” she added as an afterthought.
“Yes,” said the Colonel grimly, “we are almost of an age—good-night.”
Ida watched the door close and then leant her arm on the mantelpiece, and reflected that she liked Colonel Quaritch very much, so much that even his not very beautiful physiognomy did not repel her, indeed rather attracted her than otherwise.
“Do you know,” she said to herself, “I think that is the sort of man I should like to marry. Nonsense,” she added, with an impatient shrug, “nonsense, you are nearly six-and-twenty, altogether too old for that sort of thing. And now there is this new trouble about the Moat Farm. My poor old father! Well, it is a hard world, and I think that sleep is about the best thing in it.”
And with a sigh she lighted her candle to go to bed, then changed her mind and sat down to await her father’s return.
The squire explains the position
“I don’t know what is coming to this country, I really don’t; and that’s a fact,” said the Squire to his companion, after they had walked some paces in silence. “Here is the farm, the Moat Farm. It fetched twenty-five shillings an acre when I was a young man, and eight years ago it used to fetch thirty-five. Now I have reduced it and reduced it to fifteen, just in order to keep the tenant. And what is the end of it? Janter—he’s the tenant—gave notice last Michaelmas;