“Believe me, Mr. Courtier, I entirely sympathize. We had nothing to do with the paragraph. It’s one of those incidents where one benefits against one’s will. Most unfortunate that she came out on to the green with Lord Miltoun; you know what people are.”
“It’s the head-line that does it;” said the third Committee-man; “they’ve put what will attract the public.”
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” said the little-eyed man stubbornly; “if Lord Miltoun will spend his evenings with lonely ladies, he can’t blame anybody but himself.”
Courtier looked from face to face.
“This closes my connection with the campaign,” he said: “What’s the address of this paper?” And without waiting for an answer, he took up the journal and hobbled from the room. He stood a minute outside finding the address, then made his way down the street.
By the side of little Ann, Barbara sat leaning back amongst the cushions of the car. In spite of being already launched into high-caste life which brings with it an early knowledge of the world, she had still some of the eagerness in her face which makes children lovable. Yet she looked negligently enough at the citizens of Bucklandbury, being already a little conscious of the strange mixture of sentiment peculiar to her countrymen in presence of herself—that curious expression on their faces resulting from the continual attempt to look down their noses while slanting their eyes upwards. Yes, she was already alive to that mysterious glance which had built the national house and insured it afterwards—foe to cynicism, pessimism, and anything French or Russian; parent of all the national virtues, and all the national vices; of idealism and muddle-headedness, of independence and servility; fosterer of conduct, murderer of speculation; looking up, and looking down, but never straight at anything; most high, most deep, most queer; and ever bubbling-up from the essential Well of Emulation.
Surrounded by that glance, waiting for Courtier, Barbara, not less British than her neighbours, was secretly slanting her own eyes up and down over the absent figure of her new acquaintance. She too wanted something she could look up to, and at the same time see damned first. And in this knight-errant it seemed to her that she had got it.
He was a creature from another world. She had met many men, but not as yet one quite of this sort. It was rather nice to be with a clever man, who had none the less done so many outdoor things, been through so many bodily adventures. The mere writers, or even the ‘Bohemians,’ whom she occasionally met, were after all only ‘chaplains to the Court,’ necessary to keep aristocracy in touch with the latest developments of literature and art. But this Mr. Courtier was a man of action; he could not be looked on with the amused, admiring toleration suited