All were glad to have her again—their own Lucy, as she still was, though somewhat of the grandiose style and self-consequence of her husband had overlaid the original nature. She was as good-natured and obliging as ever, and though beginning by conferring her favours as condescensions, she soon would forget that she was the great Mrs. Cavendish Dusautoy, and quickly become the eager, helpful Lucy. She was in very good looks, and bright and happy, admiring Algernon, rejoicing to obey his behests, and enhancing his dignity and her own by her discourses upon his talents and importance. How far she was at ease with him, Albinia sometimes doubted; there now and then was an air of greater freedom when he left the room, and some of her favourite old household avocations were tenderly resumed by stealth, as though she feared he might think them unworthy of his wife.
She gave her spare time to the invalid, who was revived by her presence as by a sunbeam; and Albinia, in her relief and gratitude, did her utmost to keep Algernon happy and contented. She resigned a room to him as an atelier, and let the little Awk be captured to have her likeness taken, she promoted the guitar and key-bugle, and abstained from resenting his strictures on her dinners.
Such a guest reduced Mr. Kendal to absolute silence, but she did not think he suffered much therefrom, and he was often relieved, for all the neighbourhood asked the young couple to dinner. Mrs. Cavendish Dusautoy’s toilette was as good as a play to the oldest and youngest inhabitants of the house, her little sister used to stand by the dressing-table with her small fingers straightened to sustain a column of rings threaded on them, and her arm weighed down with bracelets, and grandmamma’s happiest moments were when she was raised up to contemplate the costly robes, jewelled neck, and garlanded head of her darling.
When it turned out that Sebastopol was anything but taken, Mr. Cavendish Dusautoy’s incredulity was a precious confirmation of his esteem for his own sagacity, more especially as Ulick O’More and Maurice had worn out the little brass piece of ordnance in firing feux de joie.
‘But,’ said Maurice, ’papa always said it was not true. Now you only said so when you found the bells were ringing for that, and not for you.’
Maurice’s observations were not always convenient. Algernon, with much pomp, had caused a horse to be led to the door, for which he had lately paid eighty guineas, and he was expatiating on its merits, when Maurice broke out, ’That’s Macheath, the horse that Archie Tritton bought of Mr. Nugent’s coachman for twenty pounds.’
‘Hush, Maurice!’ said his father, ’you know nothing of it; and Mr. Cavendish Dusautoy pursued, ’It was bred at Lord Lewthorp’s, and sold because it was too tall for its companion. Laing was on the point of sending it to Tattersalls, where he was secure of a hundred, but he was willing to oblige me, as we had had transactions before.’