I proposed half-earnestly to foil his return by going to London at once.
‘That’s manly; that’s nice of you,’ Janet said.
This was on our walk from the house at night. My aunt Dorothy listened, pressing my arm. The next morning Janet urged me to go at once. ’Keep him away, bring down grandada, Harry. She cannot quit the island, because she has given Prince Ernest immediate rendezvous here. You must not delay to go. Yes, the Countess of Delzenburg shall have your excuses. And no, I promise you I will run nobody down. Besides, if I do, aunty will be at hand to plead for the defence, and she can! She has a way that binds one to accept everything she says, and Temple ought to study with her for a year or two before he wears his gown. Bring him back with you and grandada. He is esteemed here at his true worth. I love him for making her in love with English boys. I leave the men for those who know them, but English boys are unrivalled, I declare. Honesty, bravery, modesty, and nice looks! They are so nice in their style and their way of talking. I tell her, our men may be shy and sneering,—awkward, I daresay; but our boys beat the world. Do bring down Temple. I should so like her to see a cricket-match between two good elevens of our boys, Harry, while she is in England! We could have arranged for one at Riversley.’
I went, and I repressed the idea, on my way, that Janet had manoeuvred by sending me off to get rid of me, but I felt myself a living testimony to her heartlessness: for no girl of any heart, acting the part of friend, would have allowed me to go without a leave-taking of her I loved few would have been so cruel as to declare it a duty to go at all, especially when the chances were that I might return to find the princess wafted away. Ottilia’s condescension had done her no good. ’Turn to the right, that’s your path; on.’ She seemed to speak in this style, much as she made her touch of the reins understood by her ponies. ’I ’ll take every care of the princess,’ she said. Her conceit was unbounded. I revelled in contemptuous laughter at her assumption of the post of leader with Ottilia. However, it was as well that I should go: there was no trusting my father.
WHICH FORESHADOWS A GENERAL GATHERING
At our Riversley station I observed the squire, in company with Captain Bulsted, jump into a neighbouring carriage. I joined them, and was called upon to answer various inquiries. The squire gave me one of his short tight grasps of the hand, in which there was warmth and shyness, our English mixture. The captain whispered in my ear: ’He oughtn’t to be alone.’
‘How’s the great-grandmother of the tribe?’ said I.
Captain Bulsted nodded, as if he understood, but was at sea until I mentioned the bottle of rum and the remarkable length of that old lady’s measurement.