He sat down amid thunders of applause; and leaning back in his chair, he looked straight and full at Guthrie Carey. Guthrie Carey, erect, calm as a stone image, returned the look steadily. There was absolutely no expression in his eyes.
Carey junior joined the Christmas party after breakfast, and was handed round. Mary introduced him. He was spick-and-span, with shining cheeks and a damp and glossy top-knot, and his blue eyes stared at the strange crowd stolidly for several minutes before he suddenly crumpled up his face and uttered a howl of terror.
“What is it?” queried Dalzell, with raised brows, pretending that he had never seen such a thing before.
“It’s a baby,” Frances explained, dancing round it. “Baby! Baby!”— shaking the new rattle that was one of its Christmas gifts—“look at me, baby! It is Mr Carey’s baby. Oh, come and speak to him, Mr Carey! He is frightened of so many strangers.”
The stalwart father in the background glowered upon the son disgracing him. Red as beetroot, embarrassed and annoyed, he strode forward. The yelling infant cast one glance at him, and yelled louder than before. “I shouldn’t have let him come,” the sailor growled. He had got up from the wrong side of the bed that morning, and was in the mood to regret everything, even that he had been born. “I don’t know what possessed me to let you be bothered with the brat. I’ll ring for his nurse.”
This was unanimously objected to. The ladies gathered round, with honeyed words and tinkling baubles to pacify the little guest. Deborah snatched him from her sister’s arms, and ran with him into the garden, where she tossed him, still writhing and wailing, up and down, and dipped his face into flowers, and played other pranks calculated to enchant the average baby. This baby turned on her for her pains, and having slapped her cheeks, grabbed her beautiful hair and tore it down about her ears. The next instant he felt the weight of the hand from which his own had derived its strength.