“Bob,” said Eugene, “you don’t know Stafford; and your expression about your sister is—well, shall I say lacking in refinement?”
“Haddington didn’t like it.”
“Damn Haddington, and you too!” said Eugene impatiently, walking away.
Bob looked after him with a chuckle, and exclaimed enigmatically to the silent air, “Six to four, t. and o.”
Father Stafford changes his Habits, and Mr. Haddington his Views.
For sheer placid enjoyment and pleasantness of living, there is nothing like a sojourn in a well-appointed country house, peopled by well-assorted guests. The guests at Millstead Manor were not perhaps particularly well-assorted; but nevertheless the hours passed by in a round of quiet delights, and the long summer days seemed in no wise tedious. The Bishop and Mrs. Bartlett had reluctantly gone to open the bazaar, and Miss Chambers went with them, but otherwise the party was unchanged; for Morewood, who had come originally only for two days, had begged leave to stay, received it on condition of showing due respect to everybody’s prejudices, telegraphed for his materials, and was fitfully busy making sketches, not of Lady Claudia, to her undisguised annoyance, but of Stafford, with whose face he had been wonderfully struck. Stafford himself was the only one of the party, besides his artistic tormentor, who had not abandoned himself to the charms of idleness. His great work was understood to make rapid progress between six in the morning, when he always rose, and half-past nine, when the party assembled at breakfast; and he was also busy in writing a reply to a daring person who had recently asserted in print that on the whole the less said about the Council of Chalcedon the better.
“The Pope’s wild about it!” reported Bob Territon to the usual after-breakfast group on the lawn: “says the beggar’s impudence licks him.”
“He shall not work any more,” exclaimed Claudia, darting into the house, whence she presently emerged, followed by Stafford, who resignedly sat himself down with them.
Such forcible interruptions of his studies were by no means uncommon. Eugene, however, who was of an observant turn, noticed—and wondered if others did—that the raids on his seclusion were much more apt to be successful when Claudia headed them than under other auspices. The fact troubled him, not only from certain unworthy feelings which he did his best to suppress, but also because he saw nothing but harm to be possible from any close rapprochement between Claudia and Stafford. Kate, on the contrary, seemed to him to have set herself the task of throwing them together; with what motive he could not understand, unless it were the recollection of his ill-fated “Claudia.” He did not think this explanation very convincing, for he was well aware that Kate’s scorn of Claudia’s attractions, as compared with her own, was perfectly