Nevertheless, Margaret could not quite get rid of the feeling of discomfort which the news of Charles Pixley’s arrival had cast over her, and Graeme anathematised that young man most fervently each time he glanced at her face.
After lunch Graeme went back to the hotel, and found Pixley lolling on the seat outside, in a much more contented frame of mind than on his first arrival.
“You were right as to their lobsters, anyhow, Graeme,” he said. “They’re almost worth coming all the way for.”
“All right. Now if you’re rested we’ll go for a stroll, and I’ll set your mind at rest as to to-morrow. Then you’ll be able to enjoy your dinner in a proper frame of mind.”
“How far is it?”
“Just up there and round the corner. We’ll see the Vicar first and you can try your hand on him.”
The Vicar received them with jovial bonhomie.
“Ah-ha! The bridegroom cometh out of his chamber! And your friend? He is the best man—no?”
“He’s not quite made up his mind yet, Vicar. Perhaps you can persuade him to it.”
“But it is an honour—n’est-ce pas? To attend so beautiful a bride to the altar—”
“Well, you see, the fact is—Mr. Pixley would have preferred reversing the positions. He would like to have been bridegroom and me to be best man.”
“Ah—so! Well, it is not surprising—”
“Moreover, he would like to stop the wedding now if he could—”
“Ach, non! That is not possible,” said the Vicar wrathfully, the southern blood blazing in his face. “What would you do, my good sir, and why?”
“Miss Brandt is my father’s ward,” said Pixley sturdily. “My father objects to this marriage. He has sent me over to stop it.”
“I understand,” said the Vicar. “He wished his ward to marry you, but Miss Brandt made her own choice, which she had a perfect right to do, and, ma foi—” leaning back in his chair and regarding the two faces in front of him, he did not finish his sentence in words, but contented himself with cryptic nods whose meaning, we may hope, was lost upon Charles Svendt’s amour propre.
“And what would you do?” asked the Vicar presently.
“Well, if necessary, I can get up in the church and state that there is just cause for stopping the marriage—”
“What just cause, I should ask you?”
“I have told you. My father—”
“I would not listen. I would order them to put you out—to carry you out, if necessary, for making dis-turb-ance in my church. I would tell them to sit on you in the churchyard till the wedding was over. What good would you do? Ach, non! Be advised, my good sir, and re-linquish any such in-tention. It will ac-complish nothing and only lead to your own con-fusion.”
“My father is applying to have Miss Brandt made a ward in Chancery—”