He drove the car himself, shrewd and self-contained, sitting easily, with his cap well drawn over those steady eyes; and though this unexpected meeting of the Cabinet in the Whitsuntide recess was not only a nuisance, but gave food for anxiety, he was fully able to enjoy the swift smooth movement through the summer air, which met him with such friendly sweetness under the great trees of the long avenue. Beside him, little Ann was silent, with her legs stuck out rather wide apart. Motoring was a new excitement, for at home it was forbidden; and a meditative rapture shone in her wide eyes above her sudden little nose. Only once she spoke, when close to the lodge the car slowed down, and they passed the lodge-keeper’s little daughter.
There was no answer, but the look on Susie’s small pale face was so humble and adoring that Lord Valleys, not a very observant man, noticed it with a sort of satisfaction. “Yes,” he thought, somewhat irrelevantly, “the country is sound at heart!”
At Ravensham House on the borders of Richmond Park, suburban seat of the Casterley family, ever since it became usual to have a residence within easy driving distance of Westminster—in a large conservatory adjoining the hall, Lady Casterley stood in front of some Japanese lilies. She was a slender, short old woman, with an ivory-coloured face, a thin nose, and keen eyes half-veiled by delicate wrinkled lids. Very still, in her grey dress, and with grey hair, she gave the impression of a little figure carved out of fine, worn steel. Her firm, spidery hand held a letter written in free somewhat sprawling style:
“My dear, mother,
“Geoffrey is motoring up to-morrow. He’ll look in on you on the way if he can. This new war scare has taken him up. I shan’t be in Town myself till Miltoun’s election is over. The fact is, I daren’t leave him down here alone. He sees his ‘Anonyma’ every day. That Mr. Courtier, who wrote the book against War—rather cool for a man who’s been a soldier of fortune, don’t you think?—is staying at the inn, working for the Radical. He knows her, too—and, one can only hope, for Miltoun’s sake, too well—an attractive person, with red moustaches, rather nice and mad. Bertie has just come down; I must get him to have a talk with Miltoun, and see if he cant find out how the land lies. One can trust Bertie—he’s really very astute. I must say, that she’s quite a sweet-looking woman; but absolutely nothing’s known of her here except that she divorced her husband. How does one find out about people? Miltoun’s being so extraordinarily strait-laced makes it all the more awkward. The earnestness of this rising generation is most remarkable. I don’t remember taking such a serious view of life in my youth.”