“The eldest there—Sophy’s her name—and don’t judge from appearances; the family diet is not hardware.”
“Hush, sir! you must not be rude. That reminds me that I ought to go and speak to them.”
“You won’t get anything out of them. If you want a subject, though, I’ll give you the straight tip—lambs. I’ve heard them talk about lambs by the hour. Say they are nice and soft and woolly: that’ll draw them out.”
“You are a great quiz, I perceive.”
“No, really, now, Mrs. Goodwyn-Sandys.”
“But, really yes, Mr. Buzza. I shall have to cure you, I see, before I can trust my husband in your company.”
She rose and left him to his flutter of pleased excitement.
Sam! To fall from innocence was bad enough, but to fall thus easily!
In a few moments and with charming tact, Mrs. Goodwyn-Sandys had drawn the Misses Buzza into a lively conversation; had told Sophy of some new songs; and had even promised them all some hints on the very latest gowns, before Sam Buzza, weary of silence, called across the room—
“I say, dad, what do you think is the news about the seedy-looking fellow you treated by mistake to all that speechifying?”
The Admiral looked daggers, but Sam was imperturbable.
“Ho, ho! I say, Mr. Goodwyn-Sandys, the governor took him for you, and welcomed him to Troy in his best style-flower in his buttonhole and all—’twas as good as a play. Well, the fellow has taken Kit’s House.”
“Yes, and lives there all alone, with Caleb Trotter for servant. I’d advise you to call, now that you’ve got your Sunday best on. I’m sure he’d like to thank you for that speech you made him.”
“Be quiet, sir!”
“Oh, very well; only I thought I’d mention it. I’m afraid I must be going, Mrs. Goodwyn-Sandys.” Sam held out his hand.
“Must you? Good-bye, then,” she said, “but remember, you have to come and be taught innocence.”
“Oh, I’ll remember, never fear,” answered Sam, and departed.
The Admiral also rose.
“I trust,” he said, “that this may be the beginning of a pleasant intimacy. My wife will be most happy to give you any information concerning our little town that I may have omitted. By the way, how is Lord Sinkport? I really forgot to ask. Quite well? I am so glad. I was afraid the gout—Come, Sophy, my dear, we have trespassed long enough. Good-morning!”
He was gone. Scarcely, however, could his host and hostess exchange glances before he reappeared.
“Oh, Mrs. Goodwyn-Sandys, that quotation—I have just remembered it. It was, ‘Welcome, little strangers!’ The original, I believe, has the singular—’little stranger’—but the slight change makes it more appropriate. ‘Welcome, little strangers!’ Good-morning!”
O Troy, Troy! Scarcely had the garden gate creaked again, when Mr. and Mrs. Goodwyn-Sandys looked at each other for a moment, then sank into arm-chairs, and broke into peals of the most unaffected laughter.