“It would give me great pleasure to do so,” Francis Markrute said. And he looked down so that Lord Tancred should not see the joy in his eyes.
Then they shook hands most heartily, and the newly made fiance said good-night, with the happy assurance in his ears that he might claim his bride in time to be back from a week’s honeymoon for the Glastonbury shoot.
When he had gone Francis Markrute’s first act was to sit down and write a four-figure check for the Cripple Children’s Hospital: he believed in thankofferings. Then he rubbed his hands softly together as he went up to his bed.
Then Lord Tancred left the house in Park Lane he did not go on to the supper party at the Savoy he had promised to attend. That sort of affair had bored him, now for several years. Instead, he drove straight back to his rooms in St. James’ Street, and, getting comfortably into his pet chair, he steadily set himself to think. He had acted upon a mad impulse; he knew that and did not argue with himself about it, or regret it. Some force stronger than anything he had hitherto known had compelled him to come to the decision. And what would his future life be like with this strange woman? That could not be exactly guessed. That it would contain scenes of the greatest excitement he did not doubt. She would in all cases look the part. His mother herself—the Lady Tancred, daughter of the late and sister of the present Duke of Glastonbury—could not move with more dignity: a thought which reminded him that he had better write to his parent and inform her of his intended step. He thought of all the women he had loved—or imagined he had loved—since he left Eton. The two affairs which had convulsed him during his second year at Oxford were perhaps the most serious; the Laura Highford, his last episode, was fortunately over and had always been rather tiresome. In any case none of those ladies of the world—or other world—had any reasons to reproach him, and he was free and happy. And if he wished to put down a large stake on the card of marriage he was answerable to no one.
During the last eight hundred years, ever since Amaury Guiscard of that house of Hauteville whose daring deeds gave sovereigns to half Europe, had come over with his Duke William, and had been rewarded by the gift of the Wrayth lands—seized from the Saxons—his descendants had periodically done madly adventurous things. Perhaps the quality was coming out in him!
Then he thought of his lady, personally, and not of the extraordinariness of his action. She was exasperatingly attractive. How delicious it would be when he had persuaded her to talk to him, taught her to love him, because she certainly must love him—some day! It was rather cold-blooded of her to be willing to marry him, a stranger; but he was not going to permit himself to dwell upon that. She could