After folding up the paper he hesitated for a moment. “No!” he thought, “It won’t do to trust to what Miss Lundie said about it. I can’t be certain till I have consulted Sir Patrick himself.”
He put the paper away in his pocket, and wiped the heavy perspiration from his forehead. He was pale—for him, strikingly pale—when Arnold came back.
“Any thing wrong, Geoffrey?—you’re as white as ashes.”
“It’s the heat. Where’s Sir Patrick?”
“You may see for yourself.”
Arnold pointed to the window. Sir Patrick was crossing the lawn, on his way to the library with a newspaper in his hand; and the guests at Windygates were accompanying him. Sir Patrick was smiling, and saying nothing. The guests were talking excitedly at the tops of their voices. There had apparently been a collision of some kind between the old school and the new. Arnold directed Geoffrey’s attention to the state of affairs on the lawn.
“How are you to consult Sir Patrick with all those people about him?”
“I’ll consult Sir Patrick, if I take him by the scruff of the neck and carry him into the next county!” He rose to his feet as he spoke those words, and emphasized them under his breath with an oath.
Sir Patrick entered the library, with the guests at his heels.
CLOSE ON IT.
THE object of the invasion of the library by the party in the garden appeared to be twofold.
Sir Patrick had entered the room to restore the newspaper to the place from which he had taken it. The guests, to the number of five, had followed him, to appeal in a body to Geoffrey Delamayn. Between these two apparently dissimilar motives there was a connection, not visible on the surface, which was now to assert itself.
Of the five guests, two were middle-aged gentlemen belonging to that large, but indistinct, division of the human family whom the hand of Nature has painted in unobtrusive neutral tint. They had absorbed the ideas of their time with such receptive capacity as they possessed; and they occupied much the same place in society which the chorus in an opera occupies on the stage. They echoed the prevalent sentiment of the moment; and they gave the solo-talker time to fetch his breath.
The three remaining guests were on the right side of thirty. All profoundly versed in horse-racing, in athletic sports, in pipes, beer, billiards, and betting. All profoundly ignorant of every thing else under the sun. All gentlemen by birth, and all marked as such by the stamp of “a University education.” They may be personally described as faint reflections of Geoffrey; and they may be numerically distinguished (in the absence of all other distinction) as One, Two, and Three.
Sir Patrick laid the newspaper on the table and placed himself in one of the comfortable arm-chairs. He was instantly assailed, in his domestic capacity, by his irrepressible sister-in-law. Lady Lundie dispatched Blanche to him with the list of her guests at the dinner. “For your uncle’s approval, my dear, as head of the family.”