He came down to talk over the matter with me, and to tell me of the arrangements he had made for them.
It seemed that a letter from Claude had arrived that very mail; telling Giles of his promotion, and asking leave to come and fetch his dear little Lady Betty. It was an honest, manly letter, Giles said; and as Claude was in a better position, and Lady Betty had five thousand pounds of her own, there seemed no reason against their marrying.
He had talked to both Max and Gladys, and they were willing that Claude and Lady Betty should be married at the same time. The New Year had been already fixed for Gladys’s, and Max meant to get leave of absence for two or three months and take her to Algiers; and as Claude would have to start for India early in March, Giles thought the double wedding would be best. They could get their trousseaux together, and the fuss would be got over more easily.
I expressed myself as charmed with all these arrangements, for I thought it would be very dull for Lady Betty to be left behind at Gladwyn; and then I asked Giles what he had settled about Eric.
He told me that Eric was still undecided, but he rather thought of going to Cirencester to enter the agricultural college there.
‘You see, Ursula,’ he went on, ’the lad is a bit restless. He has given up his absurd idea of becoming an artist,—I never did believe in those daubs of his,—but he feels he can never settle down to city life. He is very much improved, far more manly and sensible than I ever hoped to see him; but he is of different calibre from myself,’
‘Do you think farming will suit him?’ I asked anxiously.
‘Better than anything else, I should say,’ was the reply. ’Eric is an active, capable fellow, and he was always fond of out-door pursuits. He is young enough to learn. I have promised to keep Dorlicote Farm in my own hands until he is ready to take it. It is only ten miles from here, and has a very good house attached to it, and Eric will find himself in clover.’ Then, as though some other thought were uppermost in his mind, he continued, ’I am so glad that you and he are such friends, Ursula, for he will often take up his quarters at Gladwyn.’
It was after this that Giles asked me to marry him at once. He was strangely unreasonable that morning, and very much bent on having his own way. My objections were overruled one by one; he absolutely refused to listen to my arguments when I tried to show him how much wiser it would be to have his sisters and Eric settled before he brought me home as mistress to Gladwyn.
It was the first time our wills had clashed; and, though I knew that I was right and that he was wholly in the wrong, it was very painful for me to refuse his loving importunities and to turn a deaf ear when he told me how he was longing for his wife; but I held firmly to my two points, that I would settle nothing without Aunt Philippa’s advice, and that I would not marry him until Easter.