“Oh, I’ll arrange that, if it would interest you. I thought you were perfectly cynical about and even rather bored with women,” Lord Tancred said.
“I think I told you—was it only yesterday?—that I understood it might be possible for a woman to count—I have not time for the ordinary parrot-chatterers one meets. There are three classes of the species female: those for the body, those for the brain, and those for both. The last are dangerous. The other two merely occupy certain moods in man. Fortunately for us the double combination is rare.”
Lord Tancred longed to ask under which head Francis Markrute placed his niece, but, of course, he restrained himself. He, personally, felt sure she would be of the combination; that was her charm. Yes, as he thought over things, that was the only really dangerous kind, and he had so seldom met it! Then his imagination suddenly pictured Laura Highford with her tiny mouth and pointed teeth. She had a showy little brain, absolutely no heart, and the senses of a cat or a ferret. What part of him had she appealed to? Well, thank God, that was over and done with, and he was perfectly free to make his discoveries in regard to Zara, his future wife!
“I tell you what, Francis,” he said presently, after the conversation had drifted from these topics and cigars and liqueurs had come, “I would like my cousin Ethelrida to meet Countess Shulski pretty soon. I don’t know why, but I believe the two would get on.”
“There is no use suggesting any meetings until my niece returns from Paris,” the financier said. “She will be in a different mood by then. She had not, when she came to England, quite put off her mourning; she will then have beautiful clothes, and be more acquiescent in every way. Now she would be antagonistic. See her this afternoon and be sensible; make up your mind to postpone things, until her return. And even then be careful until she is your wife!”
Lord Tancred looked disappointed. “It is a long time,” he said.
“Let me arrange to give a dinner at my house, at which perhaps the Duke and Lady Ethelrida would honor me by being present, and your mother and sisters and any other member of your family you wish, let us say, on the night of my niece’s return” (he drew a small calendar notebook from his pocket). “That will be Wednesday, the 18th, and we will fix the wedding for Wednesday the 25th, a week later. That gets you back from your honeymoon on the 1st of November; you can stay with me that night, and if your uncle is good enough to include me in the invitation to his shoot we can all three go down to Montfitchet on the following day. Is all this well? If so I will write it down.”
“Perfectly well,” agreed the prospective bridegroom—and having no notebook or calendar, he scribbled the reminder for himself on his cuff. Higgins, his superb valet, knew a good deal of his lordship’s history from his lordship’s cuffs!