“It sounds very true,” he said, wearily. “Will you tell me where I can buy a new heart and a fresh set of impulses, even a disposition, perhaps? I’d be a customer. I’m willing enough.”
“Never mind that,” she said, softly. “After all, I have a certain amount of faith. A miracle may happen at any moment.”
Sybil came in, dressed in a fascinating short skirt and a toque. Her maid on the threshold was carrying a small green baize box.
“I am going to Prince’s, mother, just for an hour, with Mrs. Huntingdon. How do you do, Lord Arranmore? You’ll keep mother from being dull, won’t you?”
“It is your mother,” he said, “who is making me dull.”
“Poor old mummy,” Sybil declared, cheerfully.
“Never mind. Her bark’s a good deal worse than her bite. Good-bye, both of you.”
Lord Arranmore rose and closed the door after her.
“Sybil is a remarkably handsome young woman,” he said. “Any signs of her getting married yet?”
Lady Caroom shook her head.
“No! Arranmore, that reminds me, what has become of—Mr. Brooks?” Lord Arranmore smiled a little bitterly. “He is in London.”
“I have never seen him, you must remember, since that evening. Is he still—unforgiving?
“Yes! He refuses to be acknowledged. He is taking the bare income which is his by law—it comes from a settlement to the eldest son—and he is studying practical philanthropy in the slums.”
“I am sorry,” she said. “I like him, and he would be a companion for you.”
“He’s not to be blamed,” Lord Arranmore said. “From his point of view I have been the most scandalous parent upon this earth.” Lady Caroom sighed.
“Do you know,” she said, “that he and Sybil were very friendly?
“I noticed it,” he answered.
“She has asked about him once or twice since we got back to town, and when she reads about the starting of this new work of his at Stepney she will certainly write to him.”
“I mean that she has sent Sydney to the right-about this time in earnest. She is a queer girl, reticent in a way, although she seems such a chatterbox, and I am sure she thinks about him.”
Lord Arranmore laughed a little hardly.
“Well,” he said, “I am the last person to be consulted about anything of this sort. If he keeps up his present attitude and declines to receive anything from me, his income until my death will be only two or three thousand a year. He might marry on that down in Stepney, but not in this part of the world.’’
“Sybil has nine hundred a year,” Lady Caroom said, “but it would not be a matter of money at all. I should not allow Sybil to marry any one concerning whose position in the world there was the least mystery. She might marry Lord Kingston of Ross, but never Mr. Kingston Brooks.”
“Has—Mr. Brooks given any special signs of devotion?” Lord Arranmore asked.