‘To-morrow!’ he cried. ‘To-morrow! Why, it is an age! An eternity!’
But she was determined to have until to-morrow—God knows why. And, with a little firmness, she persuaded him, and he went.
Lord Almeric flew down the stairs on the wings of triumph, rehearsing at each corner the words in which he would announce his conquest. He found his host and the tutor sitting together in the parlour, in the middle of a game of shilling hazard; which they were playing, the former with as much enjoyment and the latter with as much good-humour as consisted with the fact that Mr. Pomeroy was losing, and Mr. Thomasson played against his will. The weather had changed for the worse since morning. The sky was leaden, the trees were dripping, the rain hung in rows of drops along the rails that flanked the avenue. Mr. Pomeroy cursed the damp hole he owned and sighed for town and the Cocoa Tree. The tutor wished he were quit of the company—and his debts. And both were so far from suspecting what had happened upstairs, though the tutor had his hopes, that Mr. Pomeroy was offering three to one against his friend, when Lord Almeric danced in upon them.
‘Give me joy!’ he cried breathless. ’D’you hear, Pom? She’ll take me, and I have bussed her! March could not have done it quicker! She’s mine, and the pool! She is mine! Give me joy!’
Mr. Thomasson lost not a minute in rising and shaking him by the hand. ‘My dear lord,’ he said, in a voice rendered unusually rich and mellow by the prospect of five thousand pounds, ’you make me infinitely happy. You do indeed! I give your lordship joy! I assure you that it will ever be a matter of the deepest satisfaction to me that I was the cause under Providence of her presence here! A fine woman, my lord, and a—a commensurate fortune!’
‘A fine woman? Gad! you’d say so if you had held her in your arms!’ cried my lord, strutting and lying.
‘I am sure,’ Mr. Thomasson hastened to say, ’your lordship is every way to be congratulated.’
‘Gad! you’d say so, Tommy!’ the other repeated with a wink. He was in the seventh heaven of delight.
So far all went swimmingly, neither of them remarking that Mr. Pomeroy kept silence. But at this point the tutor, whose temper it was to be uneasy unless all were on his side, happened to turn, saw that he kept his seat, and was struck with the blackness of his look. Anxious to smooth over any unpleasantness, and to recall him to the requirements of the occasion, ‘Come, Mr. Pomeroy,’ he cried jestingly, ’shall we drink her ladyship, or is it too early in the day?’
Bully Pomeroy thrust his hands deep into his breeches pockets and did not budge. ‘’Twill be time to drink her when the ring is on!’ he said, with an ugly sneer.
‘Oh, I vow and protest that’s ungenteel,’ my lord complained. ’I vow and protest it is!’ he repeated querulously. ’See here, Pom, if you had won her I’d not treat you like this!’