“Young fellow who plays cricket rather well.”
“Great golfer, they say!”
“Makes a good speech, some one was saying.”
“Gives free lectures at the Secular Hall.” “Rather a smart young solicitor, they say!”
Mr. Bullsom looked around him.
“He is all these things, and he does all these things. He is one of these youngsters who has the knack of doing everything well. Mark my words, all of you. I gave him his first case of any importance, and I got him this job as agent for Henslow. He’s bound to rise. He’s ambitious, and he’s got the brains. He’ll be M.P. for this borough before we know where we are.”
Half-a-dozen men of more or less importance made a mental note to nod to Kingston Brooks next time they saw him, and Mr. Bullsom trudged up his avenue with fresh schemes maturing in his mind. In the domestic circle he further unburdened himself.
“Mrs. Bullsom,” he said, “I am thinking of giving a dinner-party. How many people do we know better than ourselves?”
Mrs. Bullsom was aghast, and the young ladies, Selina and Louise, who were in the room, were indignant.
“Really, papa,” Selina exclaimed, “what do you mean?”
“What I say,” he answered, gruffly. “We’re plain people, your mother and I, at any rate, and when you come to reckon things up, I suppose you’ll admit that we’re not much in the social way. There’s plenty of people living round us in a sight smaller houses who don’t know us, and wouldn’t if they could—and I’m not so sure that it’s altogether the fault of your father and mother either, Selina,” he added, breaking ruthlessly in upon a sotto-voce remark of that young lady’s.
“Well, I never!” Selina exclaimed, tossing her head.
“Come, come, I don’t want no sauce from you girls,” he added, drifting towards the fireplace, and adopting a more assured tone as he reached his favourite position. “I’ve reasons for wishing to have Mr. Kingston Brooks here, and I’d like him to meet gentlefolk. Now, there’s the Vicar and his wife. Do you suppose they’d come?”
“Well, I should like to know why not,” Mrs. Bullsom remarked, laying down her knitting, “when it’s only three weeks ago you sent him ten guineas for the curates’ fund. Come indeed! They’d better.”
“Then there’s Dr. Seventon,” Mr. Bullsom continued, “and his wife. Better drop him a line and tell him to look in and see me at the office. I can invent something the matter with me, and I’d best drop him a hint. They say Mrs. Seventon is exclusive. But I’ll just let him know she’s got to come. Now, who else, girls?”
“The Huntingdons might come—if they knew that it was this sort of an affair,” Selina remarked, thoughtfully.
“And Mr. Seaton,” Louise added. “I’m sure he’s most gentlemanly.”