“You sweet girl!” exclaimed Lord Freynault, who was next to her. “I cannot get any nearer to those favored folk than my uncle’s being a duke, but won’t you let me in for some of your friendly feelings on that account?”
“I certainly will,” she answered archly, “because I like the way you look. I like how your hair is brushed, and how your clothes are cut, and your being nice and clean and outdoor—and long and thin—” and then she whispered—“ever so much better than Mr. Hanbury-Green’s thick appearance. He may be as clever as clever, but he is common and climbing up, and I like best the people who are there!”
John Derringham now addressed himself exclusively to his hostess.
“I agree with the point of view of the old Greeks—they were so full of common sense. Balance and harmony in everything was their aim. A beautiful body, for instance, should be the correlative of a beautiful soul. Therefore in general their athletics were not pursued, as are ours, for mere pleasure and sport, and because we like to feel fit. They did not systematically exercise just to wrest from some rival the prize in the games, either. Their care of the body had a far higher and nobler end: to bring it into harmony as a dwelling-place for a noble soul.”
“How divine!” said Mrs. Cricklander.
John Derringham went on:
“You remember Plato upon the subject—his reluctance to admit that a physical defect must sometimes be overlooked. But nowadays everything is distorted by ridiculous humanitarian nonsense. With our wonderful inventions, our increasing knowledge of sanitation and science, and the possibilities and limitations of the human body, what glorious people we should become if we could choke this double-headed hydra of rotten sentiment and exalt common sense!”
But now Mrs. Cricklander saw that a storm was gathering upon Mr. Hanbury-Green’s brow and, admirable hostess that she was, she decided to smooth the troubled waters, so she went across the room to the piano, and began to play a seductive valse, while John Derringham followed her and leaned upon the lid, and tried to feel as devoted as he looked.
“Why cannot we go to-morrow and see your old master?” she asked, as her white fingers, with their one or two superb rings, glided over the keys. “I feel an unaccountable desire to become acquainted with him. I should love to see what the person was like who molded you when you were a boy.”
“Mr. Carlyon is a wonderful-looking old man,” John Derringham returned. “Someone—who knows him very well—described him long ago as ‘Cheiron.’ You will see how apt it is when you meet.”
Mrs. Cricklander crashed some chords. She had never heard of this Cheiron. She felt vaguely that Arabella had told her of some classical or mythological personage of some such sounding name, a boatman of sorts—but she dare not risk a statement, so she went on with the point she wished to gain, which was to investigate at once Mr. Carlyon’s surroundings and discover, if possible, whether there was any influence there that would be inimical to herself.