“Isn’t that unkind? Haven’t we had a golden time?” His tone smote her a little.
“It was heavenly,” she said, “till—”
“Till I behaved like a brute?”
She laughed excitedly, and waved farewell.
Falloden, smiling, watched her go, standing beside
Siegfried parting from Brunhilde.
When she and the groom had disappeared, he mounted and rode off towards another exit.
“I must be off to-morrow!” he said to himself with decision—“or my schools will go to the dogs!”
“Three more invitations!—since lunch,” said Mrs. Hooper, as she came into the schoolroom, where her elder daughter sat by the window renovating a garden hat.
Her mother dropped the envelopes on a small table beside Alice, and sitting down on the other side of it, she waited for her daughter’s comments.
Alice threw down her work, and hastily opened the notes. She flushed an angry pink as she read them.
“I might as well not exist!” she said shortly, as she pushed them away again.
For two of the notes requested the pleasure of Dr. and Mrs. Hooper’s and Lady Constance Bledlow’s company at dinner, and the third, from a very great lady, begged “dear Mrs. Hooper” to bring Lady Constance to a small party in Wolsey College Gardens, to meet the Chancellor of the University, a famous Tory peer, who was coming down to a public, meeting. In none of the three was there any mention of the elder Miss Hooper.
Mrs. Hooper looked worried. It was to her credit that her maternal feeling, which was her only passion, was more irritated by this sudden stream of invitations than her vanity was tickled.
What was there indeed to tickle anybody’s vanity in the situation? It was all Constance—Constance—Constance! Mrs. Hooper was sometimes sick of the very name “Lady Constance Bledlow,” It had begun to get on her nerves. The only defence against any sort of “superiority,” as some one has said, is to love it. But Mrs. Hooper did not love her husband’s niece. She was often inclined to wish, as she caught sight of Alice’s pinched face, that the household had never seen her. And yet without Connie’s three hundred a year, where would the household be!
Mrs. Hooper was painfully, one might have said, guiltily aware of that side of the business. She was an incompetent, muddling woman, who had never learnt to practise the simple and dignified thrift so common in the academic households of the University. For nowhere, really, was plain living gayer or more attractive than in the new Oxford of this date. The young mothers who wheeled their own perambulators in the Parks, who bathed and dressed and taught their children, whose house-books showed a spirited and inventive economy of which they were inordinately proud, who made their own gowns of Liberty stuff in