Even in a week Tom has got so wearied about the Mayflower that yesterday at lunch when some new people came, and one woman began again, he said his father had collected rags and bones, and his great-great-grandfather was hung for sheep stealing! The woman nearly had a fit, and I heard her reproaching our hostess afterwards, as she said she had been invited to meet an English Earl! And the poor hostess looked so unhappy and came and asked me in such a worried voice if it were really true; so I told her I thought not exactly, but that the late Earl had a wonderful collection of Persian carpets and ivories which Tom might be alluding to. Even this did not comfort her, I could see she was still troubled over the sheep stealing, and the only thing I could think of to explain that was about the eighth Earl, don’t you remember, Mamma? who was beheaded for the Old Pretender.
But the exquisite part of it all is the lady Tom told the story to was interviewed directly she got home, I suppose, for this morning in most of the papers there are headlines six inches tall:
ENGLISH PEER NO CATCH
FATHER RAG AND BONE MERCHANT
Tom is so enchanted he is going to have them framed for the smoking room at Chevenix. But our hostess is too unhappy and burns to get him to deny it publicly. “My dear lady,” Tom said, “would you have me deny I’ve got a green nose?” She looked so puzzled, “Oh, Lord Chevenix,” she said, “why, of course you have not. A little sunburnt, perhaps—but green!" Think of it, Mamma! Octavia and I nearly collapsed, and she is such a nice woman, too, and not really a fool; bright and cheery and sensible; but I am afraid out here they don’t yet quite understand Tom, or Octavia either, for the matter of that.
There is a lovely place in New York called the Riverside Drive, charming houses looking straight out on the Hudson. But if you live in that part none of the Four Hundred or Two Hundred and Fifty, or whatever it is, would visit you, hardly. These people we are staying with now have a mansion there but are soon going to move. The daughter, Natalie, told me to-day, that after this her Poppa would also take a house at Newport, because now they would have no difficulty in getting into the swim!