“But more was lost at Mohacksfield—”
Jasmine had stood transfixed while the first words were sung, then, as the last line was reached, staring straight in front of her, as though she saw again the body of Adrian Fellowes in the room by the river, she gave a cry, which sounded half laughter and half torture, and fell heavily on the polished floor.
Rudyard ran forward and lifted her in his arms. Lady Tynemouth was beside him in an instant.
“Yes, that’s right—you come,” he said to her, and he carried the limp body up-stairs, the white violets in her dress crushed against his breast.
“Poor child—the war, of course; it means so much to them.”
Thus, a kindly dowager, as she followed the Royalties down-stairs.
ONE WHO CAME SEARCHING
“A lady to see you, sir.”
“A lady? What should we be doing with ladies here, Gleg?”
“I’m sure I have no use for them, sir,” replied Gleg, sourly. He was in no good humour. That very morning he had been told that his master was going to South Africa, and that he would not be needed there, but that he should remain in England, drawing his usual pay. Instead of receiving this statement with gratitude, Gleg had sniffed in a manner which, in any one else, would have been impertinence; and he had not even offered thanks.
“Well, what do you think she wants? She looks respectable?”
“I don’t know about that, sir. It’s her ladyship, sir.”
“It’s what ‘ladyship,’ Gleg?”
“Her ladyship, sir—Lady Tynemouth.”
Stafford looked at Gleg meditatively for a minute, and then said quietly:
“Let me see, you have been with me sixteen years, Gleg. You’ve forgotten me often enough in that time, but you’ve never forgotten yourself before. Come to me to-morrow at noon.... I shall allow you a small pension. Show her ladyship in.”
Gone waxen in face, Gleg crept out of the room.
“Seven-and-six a week, I suppose,” he said to himself as he went down the stairs. “Seven-and-six for a bit of bonhommy.”
With great consideration he brought Lady Tynemouth up, and shut the door with that stillness which might be reverence, or something at its antipodes.
Lady Tynemouth smiled cheerily at Ian as she held out her hand.
“Gleg disapproves of me very greatly. He thinks I am no better than I ought to be.”
“I am sure you are,” answered Stafford, drily.
“Well, if you don’t know, Ian, who does? I’ve put my head in the lion’s mouth before, just like this, and the lion hasn’t snapped once,” she rejoined, settling herself cozily in a great, green leather-chair. “Nobody would believe it; but there it is. The world couldn’t think that you could be so careless of your opportunities, or that I would pay for the candle without burning it.”