“Thank you, no. I will not lay myself open to imputations. I shall join you in London, and will make the best of a bad business. Thank Heaven, I have learned how to bear my misfortunes,” and with this Parthian shot she left the room.
For a minute or two her husband felt as though he almost hated her. Then he thrust his face into the pillow and groaned.
“She is right,” he said to himself; “we must make the best of a bad business. But, somehow, I seem to have made a mess of my life. And yet I loved her once—for a month or two.”
This was not an agreeable scene, and it may be said that Lady Honoria was a vulgar person. But not even the advantage of having been brought up “on the knees of marchionesses” is a specific against vulgarity, if a lady happens, unfortunately, to set her heart, what there is of it, meanly on mean things.
About two o’clock Geoffrey rose, and with some slight assistance from his reverend host, struggled into his clothes. Then he lunched, and while he did so Mr. Granger poured his troubles into his sympathetic ear.
“My father was a Herefordshire farmer, Mr. Bingham,” he said, “and I was bred up to that line of life myself. He did well, my father did, as in those days a careful man might. What is more, he made some money by cattle-dealing, and I think that turned his head a little; anyway, he was minded to make ‘a gentleman of me,’ as he called it. So when I was eighteen I was packed off to be made a parson of, whether I liked it or no. Well, I became a parson, and for four years I had a curacy at a town called Kingston, in Herefordshire, not a bad sort of little town—perhaps you happen to know it. While I was there, my father, who was getting beyond himself, took to speculating. He built a row of villas at Leominster, or at least he lent a lawyer the money to build them, and when they were built nobody would hire them. It broke my father; he was ruined over those villas. I have always hated the sight of a villa ever since, Mr. Bingham. And shortly afterwards he died, as near bankruptcy as a man’s nose is to his mouth.
“After that I was offered this living, L150 a year it was at the best, and like a fool I took it. The old parson who was here before me left an only daughter behind him. The living had ruined him, as it ruins me, and, as I say, he left his daughter, my wife that was, behind him, and a pretty good bill for dilapidations I had against the estate. But there wasn’t any estate, so I made the best of a bad business and married the daughter, and a sweet pretty woman she was, poor dear, very like my Beatrice, only without the brains. I can’t make out where Beatrice’s brains come from indeed, for I am sure I don’t set up for having any. She was well born, too, my wife was, of an old Cornish family, but she had nowhere to go to, and I think