Now in all the service there was not a man who loved hunting better than Bertie. Though he was incorrigibly lazy, and inconceivably effeminate in every one of his habits; though he suggested a portable lounging-chair as an improvement at battues, so that you might shoot sitting; drove to every breakfast and garden party in the season in his brougham with the blinds down lest a grain of dust should touch him; thought a waltz too exhaustive, and a saunter down Pall Mall too tiring, and asked to have the end of a novel told him in the clubs, because it was too much trouble to read on a warm day; though he was more indolent than any spoiled Creole—“Beauty” never failed to head the first flight, and adored a hard day cross country, with an east wind in his eyes and the sleet in his teeth. The only trouble was to make him get up in time for it.
“Mr. Cecil, sir; if you please, the drag will be round in ten minutes,” said Rake, with a dash of desperation for the seventh time into his chamber, one fine scenting morning.
“I don’t please,” answered Cecil sleepily, finishing his cup of coffee, and reading a novel of La Demirep’s.
“The other gentlemen are all down, sir, and you will be too late.”
“Not a bit. They must wait for me,” yawned Bertie.
Crash came the Seraph’s thunder on the panels of the door, and a strong volume of Turkish through the keyhole: “Beauty, Beauty, are you dead?”
“Now, what an inconsequent question!” expostulated Cecil, with appealing rebuke. “If a fellow were dead, how the devil could he say he was? Do be logical, Seraph.”
“Get up!” cried the Seraph with a deafening rataplan, and a final dash of his colossal stature into the chamber. “We’ve all done breakfast; the traps are coming round; you’ll be an hour behind time at the meet.”
Bertie lifted his eyes with plaintive resignation from the Demirep’s yellow-papered romance.
“I’m really in an interesting chapter: Aglae has just had a marquis kill his son, and two brothers kill each other in the Bois, about her, and is on the point of discovering a man she’s in love with to be her own grandfather; the complication is absolutely thrilling,” murmured Beauty, whom nothing could ever “thrill”—not even plunging down the Matterhorn, losing “long odds in thou’” over the Oaks, or being sunned in the eyes of the fairest woman of Europe.
The Seraph laughed, and tossed the volume straight to the other end of the chamber.