“It will do them good to have their ardour damped a little. You will get wet, Clifton—hurry! I expect Lord Valleys to dinner. Have a room got ready for him to dress. He’s motoring from Monkland.”
In a very high, white-panelled room, with but little furniture, Lord Valleys greeted his mother-in-law respectfully.
“Motored up in nine hours, Ma’am—not bad going.”
“I am glad you came. When is Miltoun’s election?”
“On the twenty-ninth.”
“Pity! He should be away from Monkland, with that—anonymous woman living there.”
“Ah! yes; you’ve heard of her!”
Lady Casterley replied sharply:
“You’re too easy-going, Geoffrey.”
Lord Valleys smiled.
“These war scares,” he said, “are getting a bore. Can’t quite make out what the feeling of the country is about them.”
Lady Casterley rose:
“It has none. When war comes, the feeling will be all right. It always is. Give me your arm. Are you hungry?"...
When Lord Valleys spoke of war, he spoke as one who, since he arrived at years of discretion, had lived within the circle of those who direct the destinies of States. It was for him—as for the lilies in the great glass house—impossible to see with the eyes, or feel with the feelings of a flower of the garden outside. Soaked in the best prejudices and manners of his class, he lived a life no more shut off from the general than was to be expected. Indeed, in some sort, as a man of facts and common sense, he was fairly in touch with the opinion of the average citizen. He was quite genuine when he said that he believed he knew what the people wanted better than those who prated on the subject; and no doubt he was right, for temperamentally he was nearer to them than their own leaders, though he would not perhaps have liked to be told so. His man-of-the-world, political shrewdness had been superimposed by life on a nature whose prime strength was its practicality and lack of imagination. It was his business to be efficient, but not strenuous, or desirous of pushing ideas to their logical conclusions; to be neither narrow nor puritanical, so long as the shell of ‘good form’ was preserved intact; to be a liberal landlord up to the point of not seriously damaging his interests; to be well-disposed towards the arts until those arts revealed that which he had not before perceived; it was his business to have light hands, steady eyes, iron nerves, and those excellent manners that have no mannerisms. It was his nature to be easy-going as a husband; indulgent as a father; careful and straightforward as a politician; and as a man, addicted to pleasure, to work, and to fresh air. He admired, and was fond of his wife, and had never regretted his marriage. He had never perhaps regretted anything, unless it were that he had not yet won the Derby, or quite succeeded in getting his special strain of blue-ticked pointers to breed absolutely true to type. His mother-in-law he respected, as one might respect a principle.