“I’ll take ’em all,” he replied with absurd levity. “And you too!”
“But really—” she pouted, indicating that he must not carry the ridiculous too far.
“Look here, d——n it,” he said impulsively, “I want you to come. And I want you to come to-morrow. I knew it was the confounded infants you wouldn’t leave. You don’t mean to tell me you can’t arrange it—a woman like you!”
“And what am I to do with three children in a London hotel?”
“Take nurse, naturally.”
“Take nurse?” she cried.
He imitated her, with a grotesque exaggeration, yelling loudly, “Take nurse?” Then he planted a soap-sud on her fresh cheek.
She wiped it off carefully, and smacked his arm. The next moment she was gone, having left the door open.
“He wants me to go to London to-morrow,” he could hear her saying to his mother on the landing.
“Confound it!” he thought. “Didn’t she know that at dinner-time?”
“Bless us!” His mother’s voice.
“And take the children—and nurse!” His wife continued, in a tone to convey the fact that she was just as much disturbed as her mother-in-law could possibly be by the eccentricities of the male.
“He’s his father all over, that lad is!” said his mother, strangely.
And Edward Henry was impressed by these words, for not once in seven years did his mother mention his father.
Tea was an exciting meal.
“You’d better come too mother,” said Edward Henry, audaciously. “We’ll shut the house up.”
“I come to no London,” said she.
“Well, then, you can use the motor as much as you like while we’re away.”
“I go about gallivanting in no motor,” said his mother. “It’ll take me all my time to get this house straight against you come back.”
“I haven’t a thing to go in!” said Nellie, with a martyr’s sigh.
After all (he reflected), though domesticated, she was a woman.
He went to bed early. It seemed to him that his wife, his mother and the nurse were active and whispering up and down the house till the very middle of the night. He arose not late; but they were all three afoot before him, active and whispering.
He found out, on the morning after the highly complex transaction of getting his family from Bursley to London, that London held more problems for him than ever. He was now not merely the proprietor of a theatre approaching completion, but really a theatrical manager with a play to produce, artistes to engage, and the public to attract. He had made two appointments for that morning at the Majestic—(he was not at the Grand Babylon, because his wife had once stayed with him at the Majestic, and he did not want to add to his anxieties the business of accustoming her to a new and costlier luxury)—one appointment at nine with Marrier, and the other at ten with Nellie, family and nurse. He had expected to get rid of Marrier before ten.