“Only one—a boy now two years old. They say he’s anything but strong.”
“And Sir Hugh has one brother.”
“Yes; Archie Clavering. I think Archie is a worse fellow even than Hugh. He makes more attempts to be agreeable, but there is something in his eye which I always distrust. And then he is a man who does no good in the world to anybody.”
“He’s not married?”
“No; he’s not married, and I don’t suppose he ever will marry. It’s on the cards, Florence, that the future baronet may be.” Then she frowned on him, walked on quickly, and changed the conversation.
Sir Hugh and His Brother Archie
There was a numerous gathering of Claverings in the drawing-room of the great house when the family from the rectory arrived, comprising three generations; for the nurse was in the room holding the heir in her arms. Mrs. Clavering and Fanny of course inspected the child at once, as they were bound to do, while Lady Clavering welcomed Florence Burton. Archie spoke a word or two to his uncle, and Sir Hugh vouchsafed to give one finger to his cousin Harry by way of shaking hands with him. Then there came a feeble squeak from the infant, and there was a cloud at once upon Sir Hugh’s brow. “Hermione,” he said, “I wish you wouldn’t have the child in here. It’s not the place for him. He’s always cross. I’ve said a dozen times I wouldn’t have him down here just before dinner.” Then a sign was made to the nurse, and she walked off with her burden. It was a poor, rickety, unalluring bairn, but it was all that Lady Clavering had, and she would fain have been allowed to show it to her relatives, as other mothers are allowed to do.
“Hugh,” said his wife, “shall I introduce you to Miss Burton?”
Then Sir Hugh came forward and shook hands with his new guest, with some sort of apology for his remissness, while Harry stood by, glowering at him, with offence in his eye. “My father is right,” he had said to himself when his cousin failed to notice Florence on her first entrance into the room; “he is impertinent as well as disagreeable. I don’t care for quarrels in the parish, and so I shall let him know.”
“Upon my word she’s a doosed good-looking little thing,” said Archie, coming up to him, after having also shaken hands with her; “doosed good-looking, I call her.”
“I’m glad you think so,” said Harry, dryly.
“Let’s see; where was it you picked her up? I did hear, but I forget.”
“I picked her up, as you call it, at Stratton, where her father lives.”
“Oh, yes; I know. He’s the fellow that coached you in your new business, isn’t he? By-the-by, Harry, I think you’ve made a mess of it in changing your line. I’d have stuck to my governor’s shop if I’d been you. You’d got through all the d——d fag of it, and there’s the living that has always belonged to a Clavering.”