“Very well,” said Geoffrey, not liking to raise objections to a scheme thus publicly advocated, although he would have preferred to take time to consider. Something warned him that Bryngelly Vicarage would prove a fateful abode for him. Then Elizabeth rose and asked Lady Honoria if she would like to see the rooms her husband and Effie would occupy.
She said she should be delighted and went off, followed by Mr. Granger fussing in the rear.
“Don’t you think that you will be a little dull here, Mr. Bingham?” said Beatrice.
“On the contrary,” he answered. “Why should I be dull? I cannot be so dull as I should be by myself.”
Beatrice hesitated, and then spoke again. “We are a curious family, Mr. Bingham; you may have seen as much this afternoon. Had you not better think it over?”
“If you mean that you do not want me to come, I won’t,” he said rather bluntly, and next second felt that he had made a mistake.
“I!” Beatrice answered, opening her eyes. “I have no wishes in the matter. The fact is that we are poor, and let lodgings—that is what it comes to. If you think they will suit you, you are quite right to take them.”
Geoffrey coloured. He was a man who could not bear to lay himself open to the smallest rebuff from a woman, and he had brought this on himself. Beatrice saw it and relented.
“Of course, Mr. Bingham, so far as I am concerned, I shall be the gainer if you do come. I do not meet so many people with whom I care to associate, and from whom I can learn, that I wish to throw a chance away.”
“I think you misunderstand me a little,” he said; “I only meant that perhaps you would not wish to be bothered with Effie, Miss Granger.”
She laughed. “Why, I love children. It will be a great pleasure to me to look after her so far as I have time.”
Just then the others returned, and their conversation came to an end.
“It’s quite delightful, Geoffrey—such funny old-fashioned rooms. I really envy you.” (If there was one thing in the world that Lady Honoria hated, it was an old-fashioned room.) “Well, and now we must be going. Oh! you poor creature, I forgot that you were so knocked about. I am sure Mr. Granger will give you his arm.”
Mr. Granger ambled forward, and Geoffrey having made his adieus, and borrowed a clerical hat (Mr. Granger’s concession to custom, for in most other respects he dressed like an ordinary farmer), was safely conveyed to the fly.
And so ended Geoffrey’s first day at Bryngelly Vicarage.
BEATRICE MAKES AN APPOINTMENT
Lady Honoria leaned back in the cab, and sighed a sigh of satisfaction.
“That is a capital idea,” she said. “I was wondering what arrangements you could make for the next three weeks. It is ridiculous to pay three guineas a week for rooms just for you and Effie. The old gentleman only wants that for board and lodging together, for I asked him.”