“How did it happen?”
“Seein’ the young man in the surroundings of ’er own ’ome, ’er ladyship soon began to see that she had taken too romantic a view of ’im previous, your lordship. ’E was one of the lower middle class, what is sometimes termed the bourjoisy, and ’is ’abits were not the ’abits of the class to which ’er ladyship belonged. ’E ’ad nothing in common with the rest of the ’ouse-party, and was injudicious in ’is choice of forks. The very first night at dinner ’e took a steel knife to the ontray, and I see ’er ladyship look at him very sharp, as much as to say that scales had fallen from ’er eyes. It didn’t take ’er long after that to become convinced that ’er ’eart ’ad led ’er astray.”
“Then you think—?”
“It is not for me to presume to offer anything but the most respectful advice, your lordship, but I should most certainly advocate a similar procedure in the present instance.”
Lord Belpher reflected. Recent events had brought home to him the magnitude of the task he had assumed when he had appointed himself the watcher of his sister’s movements. The affair of the curate and the village blacksmith had shaken him both physically and spiritually. His feet were still sore, and his confidence in himself had waned considerably. The thought of having to continue his espionage indefinitely was not a pleasant one. How much simpler and more effective it would be to adopt the suggestion which had been offered to him.
“—I’m not sure you aren’t right, Keggs.”
“Thank you, your lordship. I feel convinced of it.”
“I will speak to my father tonight.”
“Very good, your lordship. I am glad to have been of service.”
“Young blighted Albert,” said Keggs crisply, shortly after breakfast on the following morning, “you’re to take this note to Mr. Bevan at the cottage down by Platt’s farm, and you’re to deliver it without playing any of your monkey-tricks, and you’re to wait for an answer, and you’re to bring that answer back to me, too, and to Lord Marshmoreton. And I may tell you, to save you the trouble of opening it with steam from the kitchen kettle, that I ’ave already done so. It’s an invitation to dine with us tonight. So now you know. Look slippy!”
Albert capitulated. For the first time in his life he felt humble. He perceived how misguided he had been ever to suppose that he could pit his pigmy wits against this smooth-faced worker of wonders.
“Crikey!” he ejaculated.
It was all that he could say.
“And there’s one more thing, young feller me lad,” added Keggs earnestly, “don’t you ever grow up to be such a fat’ead as our friend Percy. Don’t forget I warned you.”