“I don’t think so.”
“And, to complete it all, what has he been doing to little Viola Tracy? Oh, what fun! Carrying her off bodily to see you, wasn’t it? Lady Diana is in such a rage as never was—says Dermot is never to be trusted with his sister again, and won’t let her go beyond the garden without her. Oh, the fun of it! I would have gone anywhere to see old Lady Di’s face!”
I do not recollect anything happening for a good while. Our chief event was the perfect success of Mr. Yolland’s concentrated fuel, which did not blow up anything or anybody, and the production of some lovely Etruscan vases and tiles, for which I copied the designs out of a book I happily discovered in the library. They were sent up to the porcelain shops in London, and orders began to come in, to the great exultation of Harold and Co., an exultation which I could not help partaking, even while it seemed to me to be plunging him deeper and deeper in the dangerous speculation.
We put the vases into a shop in the town and wondered they did not sell; but happily people at a distance were kinder, and native genius was discovered in a youth, who soon made beautiful designs. But I do not think the revived activity of the unpopular pottery did us at that time any good with our neighbours.
Harold and Eustace sent in their subscriptions to the hunt and were not refused, but there were rumours that some of the Stympsons had threatened to withdraw.
I had half a mind to ride with them to the meet, but I could not tell who would cut me, and I knew the mortification would be so keen to them that I could not tell how they would behave, and I was afraid Eustace’s pride in his scarlet coat might be as manifest to others as to us, and make me blush for him. So I kept Dora and myself at home.
I found that by the management of Dermot Tracy and his friends, the slight had been less apparent than had been intended, when all the other gentlemen had been asked in to Mr. Stympson’s to breakfast, and they had been left out with the farmers; Dermot had so resented this that he had declined going into the house, and ridden to the village inn with them.
To my surprise, Eustace chose to go on hunting, because it asserted his rights and showed he did not care; and, besides, the hard riding was almost a necessity to both the young men, and the Foling hounds, beyond Biston, were less exclusive, and they were welcomed there. I believe their horsemanship extorted admiration from the whole field, and that they were gathering acquaintance, though not among those who were most desirable. The hunting that was esteemed hard exercise here was nothing to them. They felt cramped and confined even when they had had the longest runs, and disdained the inclosures they were forced to respect. I really don’t know what Harold would have done but for Kalydon Moor, where he had a range without inclosures of some twelve miles. I think he rushed up there almost every day, and thus kept himself in health, and able to endure the confinement of our civilised life.