“It is the drilling, Mrs. Lechmere. Yes, it is wonderful how much drill does for a man; and there is a good deal in the cut of the clothes. You see, there is not much difference in the material, but George’s were made at a good tailor’s in London, and I suppose Bob’s were made down here.”
Mallett stayed for a few minutes chatting at the gate with Bob, and then, saying that he would certainly come in again before he went up to town, started on a round of calls.
“And so you have bought a yacht, Major Mallett?”
“Yes; at least she is scarcely a yacht yet. I was going to have one built, but I heard of one that had been ordered by Lord Haverstock, who, they say, has been so hard hit at the Derby that he had to tell Wanhill, the builder, that he could not take her. As the season was getting rather late, the man was glad to sell her a bargain, especially as he had already got a thousand pounds towards her; so I got her for twelve hundred less that Haverstock was to have paid. It suited me admirably, for he has engaged to finish her in six weeks. She is just about the size I wanted, 120 tons, and looks as if she would turn out fast, and a good sea boat. Of course, I shall race a bit with her next year, though I have bought her more for cruising.
“I hope that you and Lady Greendale will favour me with your company, on her first cruise after the season ends. I know it is of no use asking before that.”
“I should like it immensely, Major Mallett. It would be delightful. How many can you carry?”
“Eight comfortably. The ladies’ cabin has four berths, but will be only really comfortable for three; and there are four other state cabins—that is, three besides my own, but one of them has two berths. Of course, I could put up three or four others in the saloon for a couple of days, but for a cruise of three weeks or a month it would be too many for comfort. We could not seat that number at table without crowding, and I doubt whether the cooking arrangements would be altogether satisfactory.
“Of course, we shall want two more ladies. I will leave the selection of those to you and Lady Greendale, for, except yourselves, I know no ladies; though, of course, I could get plenty of men.”
“That will be delightful,” Bertha said; “but I dare say that by the time the season is over you will know plenty of ladies that you can ask. You see, you have met so many people here now that, as you have just been grumbling discontentedly, you are out nearly every night.”
“Yes,” he laughed. “At present, you see, I am regarded rather as an Indian lion; but I shall bid goodbye to London as soon as the yacht is afloat.”
“What is her name to be?”
“I have not given it a thought, yet. I only bought her two days ago. It seems to me that it is almost as hard to fix on a name for a yacht as for a race horse.”