“Now, Harold,” cried Eustace in dismay, “don’t spoil everything by offending him. Just suppose he should not send us the invitation!”
“No great harm done.”
Eustace was incoherent in his wrath and horror, and Harold, too much used to his childish selfishness to feel the annoyance, answered, “I am not you.”
“But if you offend him?”
“Never fear, Eu, I’ll take care you don’t fare the worse.”
And as he lighted his candle he added to poor Eustace’s discomfiture by the shocking utterance under his beard:
“You are welcome to him for me, if you can stand such an old bore.”
When I came downstairs the next morning, I found Lord Erymanth at the hall window, watching the advance of a great waggon of coal which had stuck fast in the snow half way up the hill on which the house stood. Harold, a much more comfortable figure in his natural costume than he had been when made up by Eustace, was truly putting his shoulder to the wheel, with a great lever, so that every effort aided the struggling horses, and brought the whole nearer to its destination.
“A grand exhibition of strength,” said his lordship, as the waggon was at last over its difficulties, and Harold disappeared with it into the back-yard; “a magnificent physical development. I never before saw extraordinary height with proportionate size and strength.”
I asked if he had ever seen anyone as tall.
“I have seen one or two men who looked equally tall, but they stooped and were not well-proportioned, whereas your nephew has a wonderfully fine natural carriage. What is his measure?” he added, turning to Eustace.
“Well, really, my lord, I cannot tell; mine is six feet two and five-sixteenths, and I much prefer it to anything so out of the way as his, poor fellow.”
The danger that he would go on to repeat his tailor’s verdict “that it was distinguished without being excessive,” was averted by Harold’s entrance, and Dora interrupted the greetings by the query to her cousin, how high he really stood; but he could not tell, and when she unfraternally pressed to know whether it was not nice to be so much taller than Eustace, he replied, “Not on board ship,” and then he gave the intelligence that it seemed about to thaw.
Lord Erymanth said that if so, he should try to make his way to Mycening, and he then paid his renewed compliments on the freedom of the calendar at the Quarter Sessions from the usual proportion of evils at Mycening. He understood that Mr. Alison was making most praiseworthy efforts to impede the fatal habits of intoxication that were only too prevalent.
“I shall close five beer-houses at Christmas,” said Eustace. “I look on it as my duty, as landlord and man of property.”
“Quite right. I am glad you see the matter in its right light. Beer-shops were a well-meaning experiment started some twenty years ago. I well remember the debate, &c.”