“You, Jaff Chayne, told me to mind my own business. Just you mind yours.”
“It is my business,” he shouted, “to see that you don’t disgrace yourself with a beast of a fellow like that.”
“What did you say? Disgrace myself?” She drew herself up magnificently. “Do you think I would disgrace myself with any man living? You insult me.”
“Rot!” cried Jaffery. “Every woman’s liable to make a blessed fool of herself—and you more than most.”
“I know one that’s not going to make a fool of herself,” she taunted, and flung an arm in the direction of the house.
Jaffery blazed. “You leave me alone.”
“And you leave me alone.”
They glared inimically into each other’s eyes. Liosha turned, marched superbly away, opened the garden door and, passing through, slammed it in his face. It had been a very pretty, primitive quarrel, free from all subtlety. Elemental instinct flamed in Jaffery’s veins. If he could have given her a good sound thrashing he would have been a happy man. This accursed civilisation paralysed him. He stood for a few moments tearing at whiskers and beard. Then he started in pursuit, and overtook her in the middle of the lawn.
“Anyhow, you’ll take the infernal fellow away now and never bring him here again.”
“It’s Hilary’s house, not yours,” she remarked, looking straight before her.
“Well, ask him.”
“I will. Hilary!”
At her hail and beckon I left the terrace where Mr. Fendihook had been discoursing irrepressibly on the Bohemian advantages of widowhood to a quivering Doria, and advanced to meet her, a flushed and bright-eyed Juno.
“Would you like me to bring Ras Fendihook here again?”
“Tell her straight,” said Jaffery.
Even Susan, looking from one to the other, would have been conscious of storms. I took her hand.
“My dear Liosha,” said I, “our social system is so complicated that it is no wonder you don’t appreciate the more delicate ramifications—”
“Oh! Talk sense to her,” growled Jaffery.
“Mr. Fendihook is not quite”—I hesitated—“not quite the kind of person, my dear, that we’re accustomed to meet.”
“I know,” said Liosha, “you want them all stamped out in a pattern, like little tin soldiers.”
“I see the point of your criticism, and it’s true, as far as it goes.”
“Oh, go on—” Jaffery interrupted.
“But—” I continued.
“You’d rather not see him again?”
“No,” roared Jaffery.
“I’m talking to Hilary, not you,” said Liosha. She turned to me. “You and Barbara would like me to take him away right now?”