With an affected cry of surprise and pleasure she welcomed Sir Marmaduke de Chavasse, who was standing on the threshold, prepared to enter and escorted by his young secretary, Master Richard Lambert.
RUS IN URBE
One or two of the men looked up as de Chavasse entered, but no one took much notice of him.
Most of those present remembered him from the past few years when still with pockets well filled through having forestalled Lady Sue’s maintenance money, he was an habitual frequenter of some of the smart secret clubs in town; but here, just the same as elsewhere, Sir Marmaduke was not a popular man, and many there were who had unpleasant recollections of his surly temper and uncouth ways, whenever fickle Fortune happened not to favor him.
Even now, he looked sullen and disagreeable as, having exchanged a significant glance with his sister-in-law, he gave a comprehensive nod to the assembled guests, which had nothing in it either of cordiality or of good-will. He touched Editha’s finger tips with his lips, and then advanced into the room.
Here he was met by Mistress Endicott, who had effectually thrown off the last vestige of annoyance and of rebellion, for she greeted the newcomer with marked good-humor and an encouraging smile.
“It is indeed a pleasure to see that Sir Marmaduke de Chavasse hath not forgot old friends,” she said pleasantly.
“It was passing kind, gracious mistress,” he responded, forcing himself to speak naturally and in agreeable tones, “to remember an insignificant country bumpkin like myself ... and you see I have presumed on your lavish hospitality and brought my young friend, Master Richard Lambert, to whom you extended so gracious an invitation.”
He turned to Lambert, who a little dazed to find himself in such brilliant company, had somewhat timidly kept close to the heels of his employer. He thought Mistress Endicott vulgar and overdressed the moment he felt bold enough to raise his eyes to hers. But he chided himself immediately for thus daring to criticize his betters.
His horizon so far had been very limited; only quite vaguely had he heard of town and Court life. The little cottage where dwelt the old Quakeress who had brought him and his brother up, and the tumble-down, dilapidated house of Sir Marmaduke de Chavasse were the only habitations in which he was intimate. The neighboring Kentish Squires, Sir Timothy Harrison, Squire Pyncheon and Sir John Boatfield, were the only presentations of “gentlemen” he had ever seen.
Sir Marmaduke de Chavasse had somewhat curtly given him orders the day before, that he was to accompany him to London, whither he himself had to go to consult his lawyer. Lambert had naturally obeyed, without murmur, but with vague trepidations at thought of this, his first journey into the great town.