Then, after a good deal of gush about “dear Lady Tancred’s” prospective happiness in having a daughter-in-law, and “dear Tristram,” Lady Highford’s motor was announced, and she went.
And when she had gone Lady Ethelrida sat down and wrote her cousin a note. Just to tell him in case she did not see him before she went back to the country to-morrow that her list, which she enclosed, was made up for her November party, but if he would like any one else for his bride to meet, he was to say so. She added that some friends had been to luncheon, and among them Laura Highford, who had said the nicest things and wished him every happiness.
Lady Ethelrida was not deceived about these wishes, but she could do no more.
The Duke came into her room, just as she was finishing, and warmed himself by her wood fire.
“The woman is a cat, Ethelrida,” he said without any preamble. These two understood each other so well, they often seemed to begin in the middle of a sentence, of which no outsider could grasp the meaning.
“I am afraid she is, Papa. I have just been writing to Tristram, to let him know she still insists upon coming to the shoot. She can’t do anything there, and they may as well get it over. She will have to be civil to the new Lady Tancred in our house.”
“Whew!” whistled the Duke, “you may have an exciting party. You had better go and leave our cards to-day on the Countess Shulski, and another of mine, as well, for the uncle. We’ll have to swallow the whole lot, I suppose.”
“I rather like Mr. Markrute, Papa,” Ethelrida said. “I talked to him the other night for the first time; he is extremely intelligent. We ought not to be so prejudiced, perhaps, just because he is a foreigner, and in the City. I’ve asked him on the 2nd, too—you don’t mind? I will leave the note to-day; Tristram particularly wished it.”
“Then we’ll have to make the best of it, pet. I daresay you are right, and one ought not to be prejudiced about anything, in these days.”
And then he patted his daughter’s smoothly brushed head, and went out again.
Lady Ethelrida drove in the ducal carriage (the Duke insisted upon a carriage, in London), to Park Lane, and was handing her cards to her footman to leave, when Francis Markrute himself came out of the door.
His whole face changed; it seemed to grow younger. He was a fairly tall man, and distinguished looking. He came forward and said: “How do you do,” through the brougham window.
Alas! his niece had left that morning en route for Paris—trousseaux and feminine business, but he was so delighted to have had this chance of a few words with her—Lady Ethelrida.
“I was leaving a note to ask you to come and shoot with my father at Montfitchet, Mr. Markrute,” she said, “on the 2nd of November. Tristram says he hopes they will be back from the honeymoon in time to join us, too.”