Since the thing was to be, there was nothing to be gained by postponement. So decided the Duchess, and however fond of airing her own sentiments and securing her own way Lady Ethel might be, on ordinary occasions, for once she raised no objection. She was perfectly willing that her marriage with Sir John Chetwynd should take place at once. Perhaps in her home Lady Ethel was not quite the plastic lay figure she was wont to appear in public, and the Duchess had spoken to her most intimate and confidential friends of the approaching nuptials with almost a sigh of relief, and a whispered word.
“She has indeed been very difficult to manage, and really, though I am speaking of my own daughter, I never can quite understand Ethel; she is not like other girls. It will be a huge responsibility shifted from my shoulders when she is married.”
And everybody had wondered what the girl had seen in Sir John, that he should have taken her fancy. To the outside world and to those who had not come within the immediate charm of his manner and bearing, it did offer food for speculation, and since his engagement he had grown greyer and stiffer and more professionally precise than ever.
But he suited Lady Ethel, or she fancied he did; which answered the purpose quite as well. She had always detested very young men; she liked a man whom she could look up to and lean upon, and certainly this she could do with perfect faith as regarded her fiance. Now Duchesses are no more exempt from the weary ills which weak flesh is heir to than their less favoured brothers and sisters, and in the early summer the Duchess began to complain of certain aches and pains and to bethink her that Sir John’s advice might be worth following; so she drove over to Camelot Square and was shown into the waiting room with the rest of his patients. She had some little time to wait, and while the Duchess sat tapping her foot impatiently at the delay, Ethel looked round the spacious apartment and decided on certain improvements she would effect when she should preside over John’s establishment.
And then the door was flung open, and Soames, the eminently correct footman, ushered them into his master’s presence.
The Duchess advanced gushing a little.
“So good of you to see us so soon! I was positively timid at coming without an appointment, even with Ethel.”
“It is you who are good, Duchess, to give me such an unexpected pleasure.”