“Her manners!” shouted Theo, unable to believe his ears.
“No. Her manners were always all right, but her manner was atrocious. And you have made her most delightful, as well as ten times lovelier than I would have thought possible. There, now, you may go to her.” And Theo wasted no time.
“Love is a strange thing, isn’t it?” went on the old woman to her neighbour, without looking to see who he was, for it is a remark that may safely be addressed to anybody.
“It is a damnable thing,” growled the afflicted Carron, for it was he who chanced, for his sins, to have paused just then under the pretence of lighting a cigarette.
“Exactly,” assented the Duchess briskly. “It has led you an awful life, Gerald, hasn’t it?”
“The absurdity of calling that boy’s feelings for Brigit by the same word that must express——”
“Yours for her mother, eh? Go away, you immoral thing!”
There was to be no Bridge that evening, and by unspoken consent everyone sat in the hall. It was a cold night, and the roaring fire was pleasant to hear, and in the expressive slang of the time, “things went.”
Everyone was amused; for the time being, the bores had ceased from boring, and the bored were at rest. Brigit, who loved to look into wet and be dry, to look into cold and be warm, sat in the one plain glass window in the place (its coloured predecessor had been broken by a Roundhead cannon-ball and for vainglorious Family Reasons never been replaced), so that she could look alternately into the storm and at the comfortable, cheery scene within.
She wore white, and in her hair a tiny wreath of green enamel bay-leaves. And to her beauty was, as the Duchess had so plainly felt, added the great graces of good humour and simplicity.
“After all,” thought the wise old lady, watching her, “all happy women are simple.”
Tommy, big with his splendid secret, roamed about the room, his hands in his pockets, his chin poked up thoughtfully.
It was all very well to be an earl if one wanted to rule one’s mother and get one’s own way generally, but when one wants to be a violinist, then an earldom is distinctly a bore. He had never heard of a British peer who at the same time was a great musician, but which of the two positions precluded the other he could not decide.
He wished, naturally, to begin work at once. He would have to have a serious talk with his mother to-night. If these people ever went to bed!
Bicky looked heavenly to-night. My word! what a sister for any fellow to have!
And Joyselle—he was far too great a person to be “Mistered.” Fancy Mr. Beethoven, or Mr. Paderewski! Joyselle the Great and Glorious would help him. The mater appeared to like him. It was strange, for she had been in a terrible rage the first day or two—but she certainly was as pleased as Punch now.