“I don’t think,” Lady Conyers said, “the very nicest men talk about their adventures.”
Geraldine made a little grimace.
“Hugh doesn’t talk about anything,” she complained. “He goes about looking as though he had the cares of the world upon his shoulders, and then he has the—well, the cheek, I call it, to lecture me about Captain Granet. He does talk about Captain Granet in the most absurd manner, you know, mother.”
“He may have his reasons,” Lady Conyers observed.
Geraldine turned her head and looked at her mother.
“Now what reasons could he have for not liking Captain Granet and suspecting him of all manner of ridiculous things?” she asked. “Did you ever know a more harmless, ingenuous, delightful young man in your life?”
“Perhaps it is because you find him all these things,” Lady Conyers suggested, “that Hugh doesn’t like him.”
“Of course, if he is going to be jealous about nothing at all—”
“Is it nothing at all?”
Lady Conyers raised her head from her knitting and looked across at her daughter. A little flush of colour had suddenly streamed into Geraldine’s face. She drew back as though she had been sitting too near the fire.
“Of course it is,” she declared. “I have only known Captain Granet for a very short time. I like him, of course—every one must like him who knows him—but that’s all.”
“Do you know,” Lady Conyers said, a moment later, “I almost hope that it is all.”
“And why, mother?”
“Because I consider Hugh is a great judge of character. Because we have known Hugh since he was a boy, and we have known Captain Granet for about a week.”
Geraldine rose to her feet.
“You don’t like Captain Granet, mother.”
“I do not dislike him,” Lady Conyers replied thoughtfully. “I do not see how any one could.”
“Hugh does. He hinted things about him—that he wasn’t honest—and then forbade me to tell him. I think Hugh was mean.”
Lady Conyers glanced at the clock.
“You had better go and get ready, dear, if you have promised to be at Ranelagh at half-past ten,” she said. “Will you just remember this?”
“I’ll remember anything you say, mother,” Geraldine promised.
“You’re just a little impulsive, dear, at times, although you seem so thoughtful,” Lady Conyers continued. “Don’t rush at any conclusion about these two men. Sometimes I have fancied that there is a great well of feeling behind Hugh’s silence. And more than that—that there is something in his life of which just now he cannot speak, which is keeping him living in great places. His abstractions are not ordinary ones, you know. It’s just an idea of mine, but the other day—well, something happened which I thought rather queer. I saw a closed car turn into St. James’s Park and, evidently according to orders, the chauffeur drove very slowly. There were two men inside, talking very earnestly. One of them was Hugh; the other was—well, the most important man at the War Office, who seldom, as you know, speaks to any one.”