“I have rather a fancy that we shan’t do so, Hawkins. We will do our best, but I have met Mr. Carthew a good many times, for we were at school and college together, and somehow or other he has always managed to beat me.”
“Ah! well, we will turn the tables on him this time, sir.”
“I hope so, but it has gone so often the other way that I have got to be a little superstitious about it. I would give a good deal to beat him. I should like to win the Queen’s Cup, as you know; but even if I didn’t win it I should be quite satisfied if I but beat him.”
It was the week of the Ryde Regatta. At that time Ryde disputed with Cowes the glory of being the headquarters of yachting, and the scene was a gay one. Every house in the neighbourhood was crowded with guests, many had been let for the week at fabulous rates, the town was bright with flags, and a great fleet of yachts was moored off the town, extending from the pier westward as far as the hulks. The lawn of the Victoria Yacht Club was gay with ladies, a military band was playing, boats rowed backwards and forwards between the yachts and the clubhouses.
It was the first day of the Regatta, and the Queen’s Cup was not to be sailed for until the third. On the previous morning Frank had received a note from Lady Greendale, saying that they had arrived with Lord Haverley’s party the day before, and enclosing an invitation from him to dinner that day. He went up to call as soon as he received it, but excused himself from dining on the ground of a previous engagement, as he felt sure that Carthew would be one of the party.
“I suppose, Lady Greendale, it is no use asking you and Bertha to sail in the Osprey on Friday?”
“I should not think of going, Frank. A racing yacht is no place for an old lady. As for Bertha, she is already engaged. Mr. Carthew asked her a fortnight since to sail on the Phantom. Lady Olive Marston and her cousin, Miss Haverley, are also going. I know that it is not very usual for ladies to go on racing yachts, but they are all accustomed to yachting, and Mr. Carthew declares that they won’t be in the way in the least.”
“I don’t see why they should be,” Frank said, after a short pause. “Of course, in a small boat it would be different, but in a craft like the Phantom there is plenty of room for two or three ladies without their getting in the way of the crew.
“Well, I must be going,” he broke off somewhat hastily, for he saw a group coming down the garden path towards the house.
It consisted of Bertha and two other ladies, Carthew and another man.
“What other evening would suit you, Frank?” Lady Greendale asked as he rose.
“I am afraid I am engaged all through the week, Lady Greendale.”
“I am sorry,” she said, quietly, “but perhaps it is for the best, Frank.”