She sat down. “Yes, Tommy. But what on earth are you writing?”
“Well, you see, he—he says I must be educated. I had to promise him to go in for Latin and all that rot. It’s—a bore, but he says a musician must be educated——”
She started. And he himself, was he educated? Did he know the ordinary things known, colloquially speaking, by everybody? She did not know. It had never occurred to her before.
“Yes, dear, but—what is that paper?”
“Well, he’s so keen on it, you know, I thought I’d advertise for a—a tutor.”
“Advertise for a tutor!”
“Yes. There is no good in wasting time, is there? And she would potter about asking people their advice, etc., so I—I have just drawn up this. You won’t tell?”
She shook her head with much gravity and then read what he had written:
“Wanted, by the
Earl of Kingsmead, a tutor. Oxford man preferred.
Must be fond of sport, particularly ratting and cricket.”
“Do you think it’s all right?” he asked, as he read it.
“Y—yes—only there isn’t any ‘k’ in ‘particularly.’ But I think we’d better—ask someone, little brother. I don’t imagine that children usually advertise for their own tutors.”
“But there isn’t any ‘usually’ about me, Bick. And certainly mother isn’t ‘usual,’ nor you. And if she got a man I’d be sure to loathe him. Think of that chap Baker that she thought such a lot of. Why, he read poetry!”
“Poetry isn’t any worse than music, is it?”
Tommy’s mouth, as he smiled, was its most fawn-like. “Music! Rather different, my dear Brigit. Well—can you lend me some money for my ad?”
She was silent for a moment, and then answered in a kind of desperate impatience, “Oh, dear! Suppose you go and ask him what to do.”
The Duchess, that evening, watched Brigit with dismayed surprise. What had happened to the girl? Where were her happy expression and youthful spirits?
Theo had not changed; that they had not quarrelled was quite evident, for when she spoke to him there was something of the gentleness of the day before in her manner; but this exception excepted, the girl had reverted to her old air of silent, resentful indifference, and her strange beauty was to the watchful old woman as repellent as she had ever seen it.
Once, when Carron spoke to her, Brigit answered without turning her head, and with her narrowed eyes and slow-moving lips looked almost venomous.
If she had produced a knife and plunged it into him, the Duchess told herself she would not have been surprised.
“An uncommonly unpleasant young person,” thought the old lady, “with the temper of a fiend. I wonder where she got it; poor Henry had no temper at all, and her mother is at worst a spitfire.”