“On Tuesday—the youngsters, only.”
“You might tell me a little about them.”
But Felix only smiled. His powers of description faltered before that task; and, proud of those powers, he did not choose to subject them to failure.
Not till three o’clock that Saturday did the Bigwigs begin to come. Lord and Lady Britto first from Erne by car; then Sir Gerald and Lady Malloring, also by car from Joyfields; an early afternoon train brought three members of the Lower House, who liked a round of golf—Colonel Martlett, Mr. Sleesor, and Sir John Fanfar—with their wives; also Miss Bawtrey, an American who went everywhere; and Moorsome, the landscape-painter, a short, very heavy man who went nowhere, and that in almost perfect silence, which he afterward avenged. By a train almost sure to bring no one else came Literature in Public Affairs, alone, Henry Wiltram, whom some believed to have been the very first to have ideas about the land. He was followed in the last possible train by Cuthcott, the advanced editor, in his habitual hurry, and Lady Maude Ughtred in her beauty. Clara was pleased, and said to Stanley, while dressing, that almost every shade of opinion about the land was represented this week-end. She was not, she said, afraid of anything, if she could keep Henry Wiltram and Cuthcott apart. The House of Commons men would, of course, be all right. Stanley assented: “They’ll be ‘fed up’ with talk. But how about Britto—he can sometimes be very nasty, and Cuthcott’s been pretty rough on him, in his rag.”
Clara had remembered that, and she was putting Lady Maude on one side of Cuthcott, and Moorsome on the other, so that he would be quite safe at dinner, and afterward—Stanley must look out!
“What have you done with Nedda?” Stanley asked.
“Given her to Colonel Martlett, with Sir John Fanfar on the other side; they both like something fresh.” She hoped, however, to foster a discussion, so that they might really get further this week-end; the opportunity was too good to throw away.
“H’m!” Stanley murmured. “Felix said some very queer things the other night. He, too, might make ructions.”
Oh, no!—Clara persisted—Felix had too much good taste. She thought that something might be coming out of this occasion, something as it were national, that would bear fruit. And watching Stanley buttoning his braces, she grew enthusiastic. For, think how splendidly everything was represented! Britto, with his view that the thing had gone too far, and all the little efforts we might make now were no good, with Canada and those great spaces to outbid anything we could do; though she could not admit that he was right, there was a lot in what he said; he had great gifts—and some day might—who knew? Then there was Sir John—Clara