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“ You see,
“No, I didn't,” said Lady by the window. But-oh, Bob, Betty, with a faint air of being I do love old Herbert, and I'm on her defence.
so sick, so sick!” and she began “And there was nobody but to cry again.
. old Fairbrother lying about the Mereworth spoke kindly. room when you went in?”. “I'm sorry, old girl, but what's “Nobody.”
to be done? Herbert's as mad Sinclair
triumphant. as a hatter, and he's a wrong ," he said to Fair- ’un as well, more or less. You brother.
can't marry him, can you ? His Mereworth interposed. “We turning up like this, confound mustn't bother him with argu- him, has probably made you ments to-night. Go to bed, old think you care more than you chap, and we'll talk it out to- do—it's taken you by surprise.
Get a good night's Anyhow it's no good, is it? rest, and then see if you still And you see we're committed think there was somebody; and to this Fairbrother chap. I if you do, we'll investigate it.” tell you candidly, if it doesn't
So Fairbrother went to bed, come off I shall go broke, his last recollection being the and this place will be sold : wide-eyed face of Bertha Mos- that would be rather beastly, tyn, and Sinclair explaining wouldn't it? His father promeverything with laughter. An
An ised me to put things straight, hour later Mereworth knocked as I told you, as soon as you at his sister's door and went in. were married wouldn't beShe had not begun to undress, fore, cautious old devil. Fairand was walking about the brother's a bit of a bore, but room, seeming to have wept that will be all right when
. He looked keenly at her, and you're married : you can have sat down on the edge of the your own friends and all that, bed. Then he said casually, and it would be much worse “ “So old Herbert's on the war- if you married a regular brute, path. Better confess, Betty.” as you might have to do. And, She said nothing till he went by Jove! just think of having a to her and took her by the few dibs ! How many times arms and made her look at were you threatened with the him. Then she saw that he County Court last month?
It was trying not to smile. must come off.” “ You won't give me away,
“But if he finds that it was Bob?”
Herbert who came ?” “No; but hang it, you know, "He mustn't. If he found they might have killed one an- out that you were such friends other if they really fought with with a wild chap like that swords. Did you know he was ---mad enough to do such a coming ?”
trick as this - it's the
very “No-no-no! I nearly died thing to make people like that when I saw him. He just said cry off. And if it got about, he wouldn't have hurt Arthur, people would talk and make and then he—then he went out things out much worse than
they are. We'll have to con- memory of the dialogue. Merevince him he imagined it all, or worth looked hard at the senat least stop his mouth. Her sible face, and abandoned an bert needn't be mentioned. And, alternative theory of a ghost. for heaven's sake, tell him not But he pointed out that if the to come here again. I tell you was real, it must have what, Betty, if Fairbrother's been some mad fellow of the satisfied about this, we'd better neighbourhood who had heard rush things on. Never mind of the masquerade and got some about the season. We'll have clothes from London and deterhis people down here to stay, mined to thrust himself in, and and keep quiet and bring it off lost his temper at being opin a month's time. That's the posed. There would be no use best plan. Old Herbert's quite in making inquiries : it would capable of doing some other be extremely unpleasant if there silly trick if we don't hurry was a fuss about it, and the things. Do you agree?” thing got into the papers.
Lady Betty thought. Yes: he asked Fairbrother to say it was better that things should nothing about it, and allow be finished quickly, if finished Sinclair and Miss Mostyn to they must be. She was weary suppose he had imagined it. of small hypocrisies of gaiety, After all, that was possible, and and of receiving pompous pro- after all no great harm had testations, and marriage would been done. If the man turned end all that. She did not take, up again, of course they would I fear, a very lofty view of that have to deal with him then. sacrament, but she meant no Probably he was either some harm: married, she and Fair- harum-scarum young fellow or brother might go their ways in a lunatic. Above all, he impeace and amity. So she con- plored Fairbrother to say nosented, and her brother kissed thing to Lady Mereworth, who her affectionately, and went to nervous, and might be bed, convinced he was a born frightened. Fairbrother at diplomatist. Lady Betty cried length consented most reluca little, and then went to sleep. tantly. He was for measures The Flair family mostly lived of retribution, but admitted at for the day.
length that if they were posThe next morning Mereworth sible, they would make himwent to his guest's bedside, and self ridiculous. He tried to argued gravely that the en- discuss the matter with Lady counter must have been a dream. Betty, but she laughed at him, Fairbrother stuck to his guns. made light of his tumble, and He was quite certain that a warned him against drink, so man had fought him, though that dignity closed his lips. he was willing to admit that Sinclair and Bertha Mostyn, wine might have exaggerated really amiable people, were his impression of the likeness to easily persuaded that the subthe portrait, and confused his ject was disagreeable to poor
Fairbrother, and had best be thought I'd mystify him first, forgotten.
and establish a pleasant acOn the day after a letter quaintance in that way. With for Lady Betty from the result you saw.
I won't London :
say unpleasant things; but
really, of all the disagreeable “I give you my word of brutes I ever met-he began to honour I meant no mischief. insult me at once, and flesh and I was feeling horribly out in blood couldn't have stood it. I the cold and rather mad about thought how he had everything things. And I thought I would I wanted and was going to see the old place again, and marry you—Betty, it was too have some fun with you all and much. Also I had had no dingo back to Australia imme- ner. Well, I went sort of mad, diately afterwards. My plan and made him fight with swords. was to arrive while you were I remember you said he could at dinner, and wait outside by fence, so I think it was fair. the window till I heard Bob He nearly had me when we make his speech, and then come began, and then I came to in and return thanks for Sir myself
. It was all right: I Eustace. I thought the sur- simply played to tire him out, prise—my being so like the old and would not have touched boy and turning up at the him. Then he fell, and you moment — would put you all came. I went back to the into a good temper, and then
I left you and I trusted to tact to carry things changed my clothes, and I sat off. Of course I meant to be there all night. My reflections polite to Fairbrother--to accept were not amusing; but they the situation, and leave things brought me to the conclusion comfortable all round. I found that I had been an idiot, and my old kit and the sword your can't fight the inevitable. Tell
that to Mereworth and comfort among my things in Duke his fraternal heart, and marry Street. Well, I missed the Fairbrother and be good; but train, and arrived hours later don't make him too happy, than I ought to have. I walked please. Only if you change from the station with my things your mind
ou la la! Coolin a cricket - bag to the little gardie is still there. I stay in cave under the cliff, you know England to do some business -round by the cliff, and not for Holland, who has wired to going near the house. Then me, but Fairbrother shall rest I changed, and came up the in peace. Good-bye.” path to the little garden. I looked in at the dining - room And so the incident of Sir window and
saw your nice Eustace Flair his portrait Fairbrother man alone, and I seemed to be ended.
Bertha Mostyn and Hugh if he had had a different order Sinclair removed their amiable of woman for wife. I cannot and frivolous presences from in honesty call Mrs Fairbrother Mereworth a few days later, an agreeable woman.
Her ideal and were succeeded by guests in life was refinement, and her
more solid and serious idea of refinement was to speak character, whom Lady Mere- seldom, and then with a peculiar worth came down to receive. mincing of words which These Mr Fairbrother, apt to irritate downright people. Mrs Fairbrother, and her niece Anything she did not underand “companion,” Mabel Simp- stand caused her, as it were,
The head of the Fair- to withdraw into an offended brother family and firm was a isolation, and she did not undercommercially successful man of stand very much. She seldom the modern English type. That made a remark which did not is to say, he did not boast of his contain a resigned allusion to wealth, nor openly express his her delicate health, and thereconviction that a rich man was by, I am afraid, irritated the the grandest of God's creatures. unfeeling. In short, an irritatThere was little or no surface ing woman. vulgarity upon him.
Remains to describe Mabel quiet in manner and mild in Simpson, who has some part in argument. He had educated this story. She had lived with himself with some superficial her aunt since she was sixteen, effect, and had laboriously ao- and had grown to be indispensquired a sufficiency of outdoor able. For Mrs Fairbrother, and indoor accomplishments to to be quite plain, was a lazy sustain with credit his later rôle woman, and disliked the trouble of country gentleman. A self- of managing a large house, possessed and inoffensive man. which in her husband's primiOn the other hand, he was not tive view was the reason for an amusing man. His experi- her existence: he declined to ences of life, which had been allow her a managing housemainly of successes and dis- keeper. Mabel, almost without appointments in getting the his perception, came to manage most work possible done by his the house altogether, to engage workmen for as little money as and dismiss servants, to order might be, could not make a con- dinners, to arrange accounts. versational show, and his re- The rest of her duty was to be marks in general reflected the somewhat exceedingly deferenmorning paper.
He had no tial and attentive to her aunt. sense of humour, and an un- I do not think we should blame conventional act or expression her for lack of independence. brought a magisterial look to She had been bred to reverence his face. Perhaps he would older relations in general, and have been a more genial man especially rich relations. The
management of a big house Fairbrother had no great respect meant power to her mind, and for aristocrats as such, although she liked power.
he was pleased that his son from a little, over-populated should be allied with them; and house where the living was Mereworth, a young man who hard, and she liked the good had talked to him about money, cheer of Elton Hall, and to have he quickly came to patronise.
comfortable allowance for As he walked about the place, dress. And if she was further and visited the few farms that sustained by a secret ambition, remained to it, he pointed out who should blame her? The mistakes and suggested improvegreat Arthur was two years ments, and made comparisons younger than she. It had been with his own larger possessions. always expected that he should Lady Mereworth could have enmake an imposing marriage; dured downright vulgarity or but Mabel argued with herself coarseness with equanimity; but that her sympathy was appre- Mrs Fairbrother, who minced ciated by him, and that his her words and said of everyparents denied him nothing thing that it was nice, was a As a boy he had been inclined sore trial to her. Mabel Simpto bully her and order her son smiled and was obliging ; about; but as he acquired nice but her manner did not entirely manners he grew polite, even to conceal, to an acute perception, her, and of late years had given that she thought Lady Betty her much of his confidence, and “fast,” she would have had sometimes taken her coun- phrased it, and even shocking, sel. She was a sensible and when Lady Betty lapsed ever practical young woman, who so little from the weary
decorum had very firm ideas of correct imposed upon her. Indeed, it speech and conduct, but who was hardly to be expected that could be tolerant on occasion. Mabel should be enthusiastic In appearance she was rather about her whom the great like her cousin, a substantial Arthur proposed to marry. person, comfortable to see, not So the Flairs had a heavy ill-looking, with rather cold grey load on their graceful backs, eyes, and flaxen hair, and rosy and they were not a folk to bear cheeks.
one easily. Mereworth began Such were the new guests to look overworked and þarwho came down to Mereworth assed. His mother's pretty to spend a fortnight there which speeches a little waned. Somewas to end with a marriage of times Lady Betty escaped from the old-fashioned, village sort. the house alone, and ran as fast They came down to Mereworth as she could all the way down and looked on its old graceful- the path to the sea for relief of ness of aspect, and its kindly, her feelings. She would some
with eyes of criti- times meet her brother's eyes in cism. To tell the truth, a certain the course of a weary dinner, strain seemed to be established and they looked despair at one not long after their arrival. Mr another. And sometimes, when