“Barbara has gone away with the Daimler,” said I, “and as I don’t keep a fleet of cars, I had to choose between this and the donkey-cart. Get in and don’t be so fastidious—unless you’re afraid—”
He took no account of my sarcasm. His face fell. He made no attempt to enter the car.
“Barbara gone away?”
I burst out laughing. His disappointment at not being welcomed by Barbara at Northlands was so genuine and so childishly unconcealed.
“She’ll be back in time for lunch. She had to run up to town on business. She sent you her love and Susie will do the honours.”
His face brightened. “That’s all right. But you gave me a shock. Northlands without Barbara—” He shook his head.
We drove off. The Chinese Puffhard excelled herself, and though she choked asthmatically did not really stop once until we were half way up the drive, when I abandoned her to the gardeners, who later on harnessed the donkey to her and pulled her into the motor-house. We dismounted, however, in the drive. A tiny figure in a blue smock came scuttling over the sloping lawn. The next thing I saw was the small blue patch somewhere in the upland region of Jaffery’s beard. Then boomed forth from him idiotic exclamations which are not worth chronicling, accompanied by a duet of bass and treble laughter. Then he set her astride of his bull neck and pitched his soft felt hat to Adrian to hold.
“Hang on to my hair. It won’t hurt,” he commanded.
She obeyed literally, clawing two handfuls of his thick reddish shock in her tiny grasp, and Jaffery lumbered along like an elephant with a robin on his head, unconscious of her weight. We mounted to the terrace in front of the house and having established my guests in easy chairs, I went indoors to order such drink as would be refreshing on a sultry August noon. When I returned I found Jaffery, with Susan on his knee, questioning Adrian, after the manner of a primitive savage, on the subject of “The Diamond Gate,” and Adrian, delighted at the opportunity, dazzling our simple-minded friend with publisher’s statistics.
“And you’re writing another? Deep down in another?” asked Jaffery. “Do you know, Susie, Uncle Adrian has just got to take a pen and jab it into a piece of paper, and—tchick!—up comes a golden sovereign every time he does it.”
Susan turned her serene gaze on Adrian. “Do it now,” she commanded.
“I haven’t got a pen,” said he.
“I’ll fetch you one from Daddy’s study,” she said, sliding from Jaffery’s knee.
Both Jaffery and Adrian looked scared. I, who was not the father of a feminine thing of seven years old for nothing, interposed, I think, rather tactfully.
“Uncle Adrian can only do it with a great gold pen, and poor old daddy hasn’t got one.”
“I call that silly,” replied my daughter. “Uncle Jaffery, have you got one?”
“No,” said he, “You have to be born, like Uncle Adrian, with a golden pen in your mouth.”