But Lady Betty shook her head with tragic sorrow and dignity, much at variance with her sweet little childish turned-up nose.
“Alas, darlings, far be it from me to bring the terrible conviction home to you!” Great occasions like this required a fine style, she felt. “Far be it from me! But Captain Hume went on to say, that, of course, was the reason of Lady Tancred’s dreadfully mysterious and remorseful look.”
“It is perfectly impossible, Betty,” Mary cried excitedly. “But even if her husband were shot, it does not prove she had anything to do with it.”
“Of course it does!” said Lady Betty, forgetting for a moment her style. “There’s always a scene of jealousy, in which the husband stabs the other man, and then falls dead himself. Unless,” and this new bright thought came to her, “she were a political spy!”
“Oh, Betty!” they both exclaimed at once. And then Emily said gravely,
“Please do tell us exactly what Captain Hume really said. Remember, it is our brother’s wife you are speaking of, not one of the heroines in your plays!”
Thus admonished, Lady Betty got back on to the bed, and gradually came down to facts, which were meager enough. For Captain Hume had instantly pulled himself up, it appeared; and he had merely said that, as her first husband had been killed in a row, Lady Tancred had cause to have tragedy imprinted upon her face.
“Betty, dearest,” Emily then said, “please, please don’t tell anything of your exciting story to any one else, will you? Because people are so unkind.”
At this, Lady Betty bounced off again offendedly.
“You are an ungrateful pair,” she flashed. “Before I brave meeting Jimmy Danvers in the passage again, in my dressing-gown, to come and tell you delicious things, I’ll be hanged!”
And it was with difficulty that Emily and Mary mollified her, and got her to re-seat herself on the bed and have a bit of their bread-and-butter. She had fled to announce her thrilling news before her own tea had come.
“I do think men look perfectly horrid with their hair unbrushed in the morning, don’t you, Em?” she said, presently, as she munched, while Mary poured her out some tea into the emptied sugar-basin and handed it to her. “Henry’s fortunate, because his is curly”—Here Mary blushed—“and I believe Jimmy Danvers gets his valet to glue his down before he goes to bed. But you should see what Aunt Muriel has to put up with, when Uncle Aubrey comes in to talk to her, while I am there. The front, anyhow, and a lock sticking up in the back! There is one thing I am determined about. Before I’m married, I shall insist upon knowing how my husband stands the morning light.”
“I thought you said just now Jimmy’s was quite decent and glued down,” Emily retorted slyly.
“Pouff!” said Lady Betty, with superb calm. “I have not made up my mind at all about Jimmy. He is dying to ask me, I know; but there is Bobby Harland, too. However, this morning—”