‘What will Kitty Varley and all say?’ was her cry.
‘Nothing, unless they are snobs, as girls always are,’ said Fergus.
‘It is not a nice word,’ said Miss Adeline.
‘But there’s nothing else that expresses it, Aunt Ada,’ returned Gillian.
‘I agree to a certain degree,’ said Miss Mohun; ’but still I am not sure what it does express.’
‘Just what girls of that sort are,’ said Gillian. ’Mere worshippers of any sort of handle to one’s name.’
‘Gillian, Gillian, you are not going in for levelling,’ cried Aunt Adeline.
‘No,’ said Gillian; ’but I call it snobbish to make more fuss about Alethea’s concern than Phyllis’s—–just because he calls himself Lord—’
‘That is to a certain degree true,’ said Miss Mohun. ’The worth of the individual man stands first of all, and nothing can be sillier or in worse taste than to parade one’s grand relations.’
‘To parade, yes,’ said Aunt Adeline; ’but there is no doubt that good connections are a great advantage.’
‘Assuredly,’ said Miss Mohun. ’Good birth and an ancestry above shame are really a blessing, though it has come to be the fashion to sneer at them. I do not mean merely in the eyes of the world, though it is something to have a name that answers for your relations being respectable. But there are such things as hereditary qualities, and thus testimony to the existence of a distinguished forefather is worth having.’
‘Lily’s dear old Sir Maurice de Mohun to wit,’ said Miss Adeline. ’You know she used to tease Florence by saying the Barons of Beechcroft had a better pedigree than the Devereuxes.’
‘I’d rather belong to the man who made himself,’ said Gillian.
’Well done, Gill! But though your father won his own spurs, you can’t get rid of his respectable Merrifield ancestry wherewith he started in life.’
’I don’t want to. I had rather have them than horrid robber Borderers, such as no doubt these Liddesdale people were.’
There was a little laughing at this; but Gillian was saying in her own mind that it was a fine thing to be one’s own Rodolf of Hapsburg, and in that light she held Captain White, who, in her present state of mind, she held to have been a superior being to all the Somervilles—–perhaps to all the Devereuxes who ever existed.
There had been no injunctions of secrecy, and though neither Miss Mohun nor Gillian had publicly mentioned the subject, all Rockquay who cared for the news knew by Sunday morning that Lady Merrifield’s two elder daughters were engaged.
Gillian, in the course of writing her letters, had become somewhat familiarised with the idea, and really looked forward to talking it over with Kalliope. Though that young person could hardly be termed Alethea’s best friend, it was certain that Alethea stood foremost with her, and that her interest in the matter would be very loving.