For what purpose could he have called on my father? To hear the worst at once? That seemed likely, supposing him to have lost his peculiar confidence in the princess, of which the courtly paces he had put me through precluded me from judging.
But I guessed acutely that it was not his intention to permit of my meeting Ottilia a second time. The blow was hard: I felt it as if it had been struck already, and thought I had gained resignation, until, like a man reprieved on his road to execution, the narrowed circle of my heart opened out to the breadth of the world in a minute. Returning from the city, I hurried to my father’s house, late in the afternoon, and heard that he had started to overtake the prince, leaving word that the prince was to be found at his address in the island. No doubt could exist regarding the course I was bound to take. I drove to my grandfather, stated my case to him, and by sheer vehemence took the wind out of his sails; so that when I said, ’I am the only one alive who can control my father,’ he answered mildly, ‘Seems t’ other way,’ and chose a small snort for the indulgence of his private opinion.
’What! this princess came over alone, and is down driving out with my girl under an alias?’ he said, showing sour aversion at the prospect of a collision with the foreign species, as expressive as the ridge of a cat’s back.
Temple came to dine with us, so I did not leave him quite to himself, and Temple promised to accompany him down to the island.
‘Oh, go, if you like,’ the fretted old man dismissed me:
’I’ve got enough to think over. Hold him fast to stand up to me within forty-eight hours, present time; you know who I mean; I’ve got a question or two for him. How he treats his foreign princes and princesses don’t concern me. I’d say, like the Prevention-Cruelty-Animal’s man to the keeper of the menagerie, “Lecture ’em, wound their dignity, hurt their feelings, only don’t wop ’em.” I don’t wish any harm to them, but what the deuce they do here nosing after my grandson! . . . There, go; we shall be having it out ha’ done with to-morrow or next day. I’ve run the badger to earth, else I’m not fit to follow a scent.’
He grumbled at having to consume other than his Riversley bread, butter, beef, and ale for probably another fortnight. One of the boasts of Riversley was, that while the rest of the world ate and drank poison, the Grange lived on its own solid substance, defying malefactory Radical tricksters.
Temple was left to hear the rest. He had the sweetest of modest wishes for a re-introduction to Ottilia.
WE ARE ALL IN MY FATHER’S NET