After an apprehensive glance in the direction of the lodge (the good woman was gifted with the highly militant temper which is sometimes the privilege of deafness) Mrs. Quabarl flew indignantly to the rescue of the struggling captives.
“Wilfrid! Claude! Let those children go at once. Miss Hope, what on earth is the meaning of this scene?”
“Early Roman history; the Sabine Women, don’t you know? It’s the Schartz-Metterklume method to make children understand history by acting it themselves; fixes it in their memory, you know. Of course, if, thanks to your interference, your boys go through life thinking that the Sabine women ultimately escaped, I really cannot be held responsible.”
“You may be very clever and modern, Miss Hope,” said Mrs. Quabarl firmly, “but I should like you to leave here by the next train. Your luggage will be sent after you as soon as it arrives.”
“I’m not certain exactly where I shall be for the next few days,” said the dismissed instructress of youth; “you might keep my luggage till I wire my address. There are only a couple of trunks and some golf-clubs and a leopard cub.”
“A leopard cub!” gasped Mrs. Quabarl. Even in her departure this extraordinary person seemed destined to leave a trail of embarrassment behind her.
“Well, it’s rather left off being a cub; it’s more than half-grown, you know. A fowl every day and a rabbit on Sundays is what it usually gets. Raw beef makes it too excitable. Don’t trouble about getting the car for me, I’m rather inclined for a walk.”
And Lady Carlotta strode out of the Quabarl horizon.
The advent of the genuine Miss Hope, who had made a mistake as to the day on which she was due to arrive, caused a turmoil which that good lady was quite unused to inspiring. Obviously the Quabarl family had been woefully befooled, but a certain amount of relief came with the knowledge.
“How tiresome for you, dear Carlotta,” said her hostess, when the overdue guest ultimately arrived; “how very tiresome losing your train and having to stop overnight in a strange place.”
“Oh dear, no,” said Lady Carlotta; “not at all tiresome—for me.”
“It’s not the daily grind that I complain of,” said Blenkinthrope resentfully; “it’s the dull grey sameness of my life outside of office hours. Nothing of interest comes my way, nothing remarkable or out of the common. Even the little things that I do try to find some interest in don’t seem to interest other people. Things in my garden, for instance.”
“The potato that weighed just over two pounds,” said his friend Gorworth.
“Did I tell you about that?” said Blenkinthrope; “I was telling the others in the train this morning. I forgot if I’d told you.”
“To be exact you told me that it weighed just under two pounds, but I took into account the fact that abnormal vegetables and freshwater fish have an after-life, in which growth is not arrested.”