“My dear—” she began in her confusion.
The Admiral turned a Gorgon stare upon her, but made no answer. Under its petrifying influence she backed out without another word, to communicate with the girls upon the portent.
This mood of the Admiral’s lasted all day. Next morning, at breakfast, he looked up from his bacon, and observed, with the air of a man whose mind is made up—
“Emily, see that the girls have on their best gowns by eleven o’clock sharp. I am going to pay a call.”
Consternation sat on every face. Sam Buzza paused in the act of breaking an egg.
“At ’The Bower’?” he asked.
“At ‘The Bower.’”
Mrs. Buzza clasped her hands nervously. The girls turned pale.
“Oh, very well,” said Sam, tapping his egg. “I shouldn’t wonder if I turned up while you were there.”
He was a light-haired, ungainly youth, of about twenty, with a reputation for singing a comic song. It was understood that the Admiral designed him for College and Holy Orders, but meanwhile time was passing, and Sam sat “with idle hands at home,” or more frequently, in the bar of the “Man-o’-War.”
“You!” exclaimed his father.
“Well, I don’t see what there is in that to be surprised about,” replied the youth, with an aggrieved air. “I met the Honourable Frederic smoking a cigar out on the Rope-walk last night. His cigars are very good; and he asked me to drop in soon and try another. He isn’t a bit stuck-up.”
The Admiral’s feelings were divided between annoyance at the easy success of his son, and elation at finding the stranger so unexpectedly affable. He rose.
“Girls, remember to be punctual. I will show this town of Troy that I am not the man to be laughed at.”
OF A LADY THAT HAD A MUSICAL VOICE, BUT USED IT TO DECEIVE.
Many of the advantages that wait upon the readers of this history are, I should hope, by this time obvious. Among them must be reckoned the privilege of taking precedence of Admiral Buzza—of paying a visit to “The Bower” not only several minutes in advance of that great man, but moreover on terms of the utmost intimacy.
Shortly before eleven on Monday morning the Honourable Frederic Augustus Hythe Goodwyn-Sandys was shaving contemplatively. He was a tall, thin man, with light, closely cropped hair, a drooping moustache that hid his mouth, and a nose of the order aquiline, and species “chiselled.” For the present the lower half of his face was obscured with lather. His dress—I put it thus in case Miss Limpenny should read these lines—was that usually worn by gentlemen under similar circumstances.
Mr. Goodwyn-Sandys was just taking his first stroke with the razor, when the creaking of the garden gate caused him to glance out of window. The effect of this was to make him cut his cheek; whereupon he both bled and swore simultaneously and profusely.