for their Guardy had made a settlement by which, until
the dear children came of age, she would have sixty
pounds every quarter. It was only a question
of a few weeks; he might ask Messrs. Scriven and
Coles; they would tell him the security was quite
safe. He certainly might ask Messrs. Scriven
and Coles—they happened to be his father’s
solicitors; but it hardly seemed to touch the point.
Bob Pillin had a certain shrewd caution, and the point
was whether he was going to begin to lend money to
a woman who, he could see, might borrow up to seventy
times seven on the strength of his infatuation for
her daughter. That was rather too strong!
Yet, if he didn’t she might take a sudden dislike
to him, and where would he be then? Besides,
would not a loan make his position stronger?
And then—such is the effect of love even
on the younger generation—that thought seemed
to him unworthy. If he lent at all, it should
be from chivalry—ulterior motives might
go hang! And the memory of the tear-marks on
Phyllis’s pretty pale-pink cheeks; and her petulantly
mournful: “Oh! young man, isn’t money
beastly!” scraped his heart, and ravished his
judgment. All the same, fifty pounds was fifty
pounds, and goodness knew how much more; and what
did he know of Mrs. Larne, after all, except that she
was a relative of old Heythorp’s and wrote stories—told
them too, if he was not mistaken? Perhaps it
would be better to see Scrivens’. But again
that absurd nobility assaulted him. Phyllis!
Phyllis! Besides, were not settlements always
drawn so that they refused to form security for anything?
Thus, hampered and troubled, he hailed a cab.
He was dining with the Ventnors on the Cheshire side,
and would be late if he didn’t get home sharp
Driving, white-tied—and waist-coated, in
his father’s car, he thought with a certain
contumely of the younger Ventnor girl, whom he had
been wont to consider pretty before he knew Phyllis.
And seated next her at dinner, he quite enjoyed his
new sense of superiority to her charms, and the ease
with which he could chaff and be agreeable. And
all the time he suffered from the suppressed longing
which scarcely ever left him now, to think and talk
of Phyllis. Ventnor’s fizz was good and
plentiful, his old Madeira absolutely first chop,
and the only other man present a teetotal curate,
who withdrew with the ladies to talk his parish shop.
Favoured by these circumstances, and the perception
that Ventnor was an agreeable fellow, Bob Pillin yielded
to his secret itch to get near the subject of his
“Do you happen,” he said airily, “to
know a Mrs. Larne—relative of old Heythorp’s—rather
a handsome woman-she writes stories.”
Mr. Ventnor shook his head. A closer scrutiny
than Bob Pillin’s would have seen that he also
moved his ears.
“Of old Heythorp’s? Didn’t
know he had any, except his daughter, and that son
of his in the Admiralty.”