‘Do you think so? Perhaps. Not in all cases’; all the while I was exulting at the sweet beams of England radiating from these dear early-morning-looking women.
My aunt Dorothy swam up to me, and, kissing me, murmured:
‘Take no rebuff from your grandpapa, darling.’
My answer was: ‘I have found him!’
Captain Bulsted sang out our names; I caught sight of Julia Rippenger’s face; the squire had his back turned to me, which reminded me of my first speech with Captain Jasper Welsh, and I thought to myself, I know something of the world now, and the thing is to keep a good temper. Here there was no wire-coil to intercept us, so I fronted him quickly.
‘Hulloa!’ he cried, and gave me his shoulder.
‘Temple is your guest, sir,’ said I.
He was obliged to stretch out his hand to Temple.
A prompt instinct warned me that I must show him as much Beltham as I could summon.
‘Dogs and horses all right, sir?’ I asked.
Captain Bulsted sauntered near.
‘Here, William,’ said the squire, ‘tell this fellow about my stables.’
‘In excellent condition, Harry Richmond,’ returned the captain.
’Oh! he ’s got a new name, I ‘ll swear,’ said the squire.
‘Not I !’
‘Then what have you got of your trip, eh?’
‘A sharper eye than I had, sir.’
‘You’ve been sharpening it in London, have you?’
‘I’ve been a little farther than London, squire.’
‘Well, you’re not a liar.’
‘There, you see the lad can stand fire!’ Captain Bulsted broke in. ’Harry Richmond, I’m proud to shake your hand, but I’ll wait till you’re through the ceremony with your grandad.’
The squire’s hands were crossed behind him. I smiled boldly in his face.
‘Shall I make the tour of you to get hold of one of them, sir?’ He frowned and blinked.
’Shuffle in among the ladies; you seem to know how to make friends among them,’ he said, and pretended to disengage his right hand for the purpose of waving it toward one of the groups.
I seized it, saying heartily, ’Grandfather, upon my honour, I love you, and I’m glad to be home again.’
’Mind you, you’re not at home till you’ve begged Uberly’s pardon in public, you know what for,’ he rejoined.
‘Leaving the horse at that inn is on my conscience,’ said I.
The squire grumbled a bit.
‘Suppose he kicks?’ said I; and the captain laughed, and the squire too, and I was in such high spirits I thought of a dozen witty suggestions relative to the seat of the conscience, and grieved for a minute at going to the ladies.
All the better; keep him there Captain Bulsted convoyed me to pretty Irish-eyed Julia Rippenger. Temple had previously made discovery of Janet Ilchester. Relating our adventures on different parts of the lawn, we both heard that Colonel Goodwin and his daughter had journeyed down to Riversley to smooth the way for my return; so my easy conquest of the squire was not at all wonderful; nevertheless, I maintained my sense of triumph, and was assured in my secret heart that I had a singular masterfulness, and could, when I chose to put it forth, compel my grandfather to hold out his hand to my father as he had done to me.