His mother, with ‘Be just before you are generous’ ringing in her ears, referred all to the Colonel, and he had long had a fixed scale of the duties of the property as a property, and was only rendered the more resolute in it by that vehemence of Armine’s which enhanced his dislike and distrust of the family at the vicarage.
“Bent on getting all they could while they could,” he said, quite unjustly as to the vicar, and hardly fairly by the sister, whose demands were far exceeded by those of her champion.
The claims of the cottages for repair, and of the school for sufficient enlargement and maintenance to obviate a School Board, were acknowledged; but for the rest, the Colonel said, “his sister was perfectly at liberty. No one could blame her if she threw her balance at the bank into the sea. She would never be called to account; but since she asked him whether the estate was bound to assist in pulling the church to pieces, and setting up a fresh curate to bring in more absurdities, he could only say what he thought,” etc.
These thoughts of his were of course most offensive to Armine, who set all down to sordid Puritan prejudice, could not think how his mother could listen, and, when Babie stood up for her mother, went off to blend his lamentations with those of Miss Parsons, whose resignation struck him as heroic. “Never mind, Armine, it will all come in time. Perhaps we are not fit for it yet. We cannot expect the world’s justice to understand the outpouring of the saints’ liberality.”
Armine repeated this interesting aphorism to Barbara, and was much disappointed that the shrewd little woman did not understand it, or only so far as to say, “But I did not know that it was saintly to be liberal with other people’s money.”
He said Babie had a prejudice against Miss Parsons; and he was so far right that the Infanta did not like her, thought her a humbug, and sorely felt that for the first time something had come between herself and Armine.
Allen was another trouble. He did not agree to the retrenchments, in which he saw no sense, and retained his horse and groom. Luckily he had retained only one when going abroad, and at this early season he needed no more. But his grievous anxiety and restlessness about Elvira did not make him by any means insensible to the effects of a reduced establishment in a large house, and especially to the handiwork of the good woman who had been left in charge, when compared with that of the 80L cooks who had been the plague of his mother’s life.
No one, however, could wonder at his wretchedness, as day after day passed without hearing from Elvira, and all that was known was that she had left Mrs. Evelyn and gone to stay with Lady Flora Folliott, a flighty young matron, who had been enraptured with her beauty at a table d’hote a year ago, and had made advances not much relished by the rest of the party.