She made her pretty nose and upper lip ugly with a sneer of ’Dew—! And enter that town before all those people as Duchess of . . . Oh, no, I won’t; I just won’t! Call back those men now, please; now, if you please. Pray, Mr. Beamish! You’ll offend me, sir. I’m not going to be a mock. You’ll offend my duke, sir. He’d die rather than have my feelings hurt. Here’s all my pleasure spoilt. I won’t and I sha’n’t enter the town as duchess of that stupid name, so call ’em back, call ’em back this instant. I know who I am and what I am, and I know what’s due to me, I do.’
Beau Beamish rejoined, ‘I too. Chloe will tell you I am lord here.’
’Then I’ll go home, I will. I won’t be laughed at for a great lady ninny. I’m a real lady of high rank, and such I’ll appear. What ’s a Duchess of Dewlap? One might as well be Duchess of Cowstail, Duchess of Mopsend. And those people! But I won’t be that. I won’t be played with. I see them staring! No, I can make up my mind, and I beg you to call back your men, or I’ll go back home.’ She muttered, ’Be made fun of —made a fool of!’
‘Your Grace’s chariot is behind,’ said the beau.
His despotic coolness provoked her to an outcry and weeping: she repeated, ‘Dewlap! Dewlap!’ in sobs; she shook her shoulders and hid her face.
‘You are proud of your title, are you, madam?’ said he.
‘I am.’ She came out of her hands to answer him proudly. ‘That I am!’ she meant for a stronger affirmation.
‘Then mark me,’ he said impressively; ’I am your duke’s friend, and you are under my charge here. I am your guardian and you are my ward, and you can enter the town only on the condition of obedience to me. Now, mark me, madam; no one can rob you of your real name and title saving yourself. But you are entering a place where you will encounter a thousand temptations to tarnish, and haply forfeit it. Be warned do nothing that will.’
‘Then I’m to have my own title?’ said she, clearing up.
‘For the month of your visit you are Duchess of Dewlap.’
‘I say I sha’n’t!’
‘I command it.’
She flung herself forward, with a wail, upon Chloe’s bosom. ’Can’t you do something for me?’ she whimpered.
‘It is impossible to move Mr. Beamish,’ Chloe said.
Out of a pause, composed of sobs and sighs, the duchess let loose in a broken voice: ’Then I ’m sure I think—I think I’d rather have met—have met his skeleton!’
Her sincerity was equal to wit.
Beau Beamish shouted. He cordially applauded her, and in the genuine kindness of an admiration that surprised him, he permitted himself the liberty of taking and saluting her fingers. She fancied there was another chance for her, but he frowned at the mention of it.