“Iris,” said Clara, “is our little savage from the American Forest. She is Queen Pocahontas, who has come over to conquer England and to win all our hearts. My dear, my Cousin Arnold will help me to make you an English girl.”
She spoke as in the State of Maine was still the hunting-ground of Sioux and Iroquois.
Arnold thought that a less American-looking girl he had never seen; that she did not speak or look like a lady was to be expected, perhaps, if she had, as was probable, been brought up by rough and unpolished people. But he had no doubt, any more than Clara herself, as to the identity of the girl. Nobody ever doubts a claimant. Every impostor, from Demetrius downward, has gained his supporters and partisans by simply living among them and keeping up the imposition. It is so easy, in fact, to be a claimant, that it is wonderful there are not more of them.
Then luncheon was served, and the young lady not only showed a noble appetite, but to Arnold’s astonishment, confessed to an ardent love for bottled stout.
“Most American ladies,” he said impertinently, “only drink water, do they not?”
Lotty perceived that she had made a mistake.
“I only drink stout,” she said, “when the doctor tells me. But I like it all the same.”
She certainly had no American accent. But she would not talk much; she was, perhaps, shy. After luncheon, however, Clara asked her if she would sing, and she complied, showing considerable skill with her accompaniment, and singing a simple song in good taste and with a sweet voice. Arnold observed, however, that there was some weakness about the letter “h,” less common among Americans than among the English. Presently he went away, and the girl, who had been aware that he was watching her, breathed more easily.
“Who is your Cousin Arnold?” she asked.
“My dear, he is my cousin but not yours. You will not see him often, because he is going to be married, I am sorry to say, and to be married beneath him—oh, it is dreadful! to some tradesman’s girl, my dear.”
“Dreadful!” said Iris with a queer look in her eyes. “Well, cousin, I don’t want to see much of him. He’s a good-looking chap, too, though rather too finicking for my taste. I like a man who looks as if he could knock another man down. Besides, he looks at me as if I was a riddle, and he wanted to find out the answer.”
In the evening Arnold found that no change had come over the old man. He was, however, perfectly happy, so that, considering the ruin of his worldly prospects, it was, perhaps, as well that he had parted, for a time, at least, with his wits. Some worldly misfortunes there are which should always produce this effect.
“You told me,” said Lala Roy, “that another Iris had just come from America to claim an inheritance of your cousin.”
“Yes; it is a very strange coincidence.”
“Very strange. Two Englishmen die in America at the same time, each having a daughter named Iris, and each daughter entitled to some kind of inheritance.”