“My son, sir, has other views,” returned Mrs. Errington loftily. “But as to what you are pleased to call ‘the trick of the thing,’ I can assure you that literary talent is hereditary in our family. I don’t know, my dear Minnie, whether you have happened to hear me mention it, but my great uncle by the mother’s side was a most distinguished author.”
“What did he write?” asked Miss Chubb, with much distinctness. But Mrs. Errington took no heed of the question. “And my own father’s letters were considered models of style,” she continued. “A large number of them are, I believe, still preserved in the family archives at Ancram Park.”
“How did they come there?” asked Miss Chubb. “Unless he wrote letters to 佛山桑拿网himself, they must have been scattered about 佛山桑拿按摩网论坛 here and there.”
“They were collected after his death, Miss Chubb. You may not be aware, perhaps, that it is not an unfrequent custom to collect the correspondence of eminent men. It was done in the case of Walpole. And—Mr. Diamond will correct me if I am wrong—in that of the celebrated Persian gentleman, whose letters are so well known. Mirza was the name, I think?”
Miss Chubb felt herself on unsafe ground here, and did not venture farther.
“Well, at all events, Algernon appears to be getting on admirably in London,” said the Reverend Peter, pacifically.
Minnie threw him an approving glance, for his good-natured words dispelled a little cloud on Miss Chubb’s brow, and brought down Mrs. Errington from her high horse to the level of friendly sympathies. “Oh, he is getting on wonderfully, 佛山桑拿论坛888 dear fellow!” said she.
“I’m sure 佛山夜生活888 we are all
glad to hear of Algy’s doing well, and being happy. He is such a nice, genial, unaffected creature! And never gave himself any airs!” said Miss Chubb, with a sidelong toss of her head and a little unnecessary emphasis.
“Oh no, my dear. That sort of vulgar pretension is not found among folks who come of a real good ancient stock,” replied Mrs. Errington, with superb complacency.
“And we are not to have the pleasure of seeing Algernon back among us this summer?” said Mr. Warlock. In general he shrank from much conversation with Mrs. Errington, whom he found somewhat overwhelming; but he would have nerved himself to greater efforts than talking to that thick-skinned lady for the sake of a kind look from Minnie Bodkin.
“Oh, impossible! Quite out of the question. He is sorry, of 佛山南海区桑拿娱乐会所 course. And I am sorry. But it would be cruel in him to desert poor dear Seely, when he is
so anxious to have him with him all the summer!”
“Is there anything the matter with Lord Seely?” asked Minnie.
“N—no, my dear. Nothing but a little overwork. The mental strain of a man in his position is very severe, and he depends so on Algy! And so does dear Lady Seely. I ought almost to feel jealous. They say openly that they look on him quite as a son.”
“It’s a pity they haven’t a daughter, isn’t it?” said Miss Chubb.
Mrs. Errington did not catch the force of the hint. She answered placidly, “They have an adopted daughter; a niece of my lord’s, who is almost always with them.”
“Oh, indeed,” said Diamond, quickly. “I had not heard that!”
Mrs. Errington bestowed a stolid, china-blue stare on him before replying, “I daresay not, sir.”
The fact was that Mrs. Errington had not known it herself until quite recently; for Algernon, either mistrusting his mother’s prudence—or for some other reason—had passed lightly over Castalia’s name in his letters, and for some time had not even mentioned that she was an inmate of Lord Seely’s house. In his latter letters he had spoken of Miss Kilfinane, but in terms purposely chosen to check, as far as possible, any match-making flights of fancy, which his mother might indulge in with reference to that lady.
“I am not sure, my dear,” proceeded Mrs. Errington, turning to Minnie, “whether I have happened to mention it to you, but Castalia—the Honourable Castalia Kilfinane, only daughter of Lord Kauldkail—is staying with the dear Seelys. But as she is rather sickly, and not very young, she cannot, of course, be to them what Algy is.”
“Oh! Not very young?” said Miss Chubb, in a tone of disappointment.
“Well, not very young, comparatively speaking, Miss Chubb. She might be considered young compared with you and me, I daresay.”
Fortunately, perhaps, for the preservation of peace, much imperilled by this last speech of Mrs. Errington’s, Dr. Bodkin and his wife here entered the drawing-room. Although it was May, and the temperature was mild for the season, a good fire blazed in the grate; and on the rug in front of it Dr. Bodkin, after saluting the assembled company, took up his accustomed station. Diamond rose, and stood leaning on the mantel-shelf near to his chief (an action which Mrs. Errington viewed with disfavour, as indicating on the part of the second master at the Grammar School a too great ease, and absence of due subjection in the presence of his superiors), and the Reverend Peter and Miss Chubb drew their chairs nearer to the fireplace, thus bringing the scattered members of the party into a more sociable circle. The doctor was understood to object to his society being broken up into groups of two or three, and to prefer general conversation; which, indeed, afforded better opportunities for haranguing, and for looking at the company as a class brought up for examination, and, if needful, correction, according to the doctor’s habit of mind. Only Rhoda remained at her window, apart from the others, and Dr. Bodkin, seeing her there, called to her to come nearer.
“What, little Primrose!” said the doctor, kindly. “Don’t stay there looking at the moon. She is chillier and not so cosy as the coal fire. Draw the curtain, and shut her out, and come nearer to us all.”
Rhoda obeyed, blushing deeply as she advanced within the range of the lamp-light, and looking so pretty and timid that the doctor began smilingly to murmur into Diamond’s ear something about “Hinnuleo similis, non sine vano burarum et silu? metu.”
The doctor’s prejudice against Rhoda had long been overcome, and she had grown to be a pet of his, in so far as so awful a personage as the doctor was capable of petting any one. To this result the conversion to orthodoxy of the Maxfield family may have contributed. But, possibly, Rhoda’s regular attendance at St. Chad’s might have been inefficacious to win the doctor’s favour, good churchman though he was, without some assistance from her blooming complexion, soft hazel eyes, and graceful, winning manners.
The girl came forward bashfully into the circle around the fire, and nestled herself down on a low seat between Mrs. Errington and Mrs. Bodkin. A month ago her place in that drawing-room would have been beside Minnie’s chair. But lately, by some subtle instinct, Rhoda had a little shrunk from her former intimacy with the young lady. She was sensitive enough to feel the existence of some unexpressed disapproval of herself in Minnie’s mind.
“We have been hearing a letter of Algernon’s, papa,” said Minnie.
“Have you? have you?”
“Mrs. Errington has been kind enough to read it to us.”
The doctor left his post of vantage on the hearth-rug for an instant, went to his daughter, and, bending down, kissed her on the forehead. “Pretty well this evening, my darling?” said he. Minnie caught her father’s hand as he was moving away again and pressed it to her lips. “Thank God for you and mother,” she whispered. Minnie was not given to demonstrations of tenderness, having been rather accustomed, like most idolised children, to accept her parents’ anxious affection as she accepted her daily bread—that is to say, as a matter of course. But there was something in her heart now which made her keenly alive to the preciousness of that abounding and unselfish devotion.
“I think it is quite touching to see that father and daughter together,” said Miss Chubb confidentially to her neighbour the curate. “So severe a man as the doctor is in general! Quite the churchman! Combined with the scholastic dignitary, you know. And yet, with Minnie, as gentle as a woman.”
As to Mr. Warlock, the tears were in his eyes, and he unaffectedly wiped them away, answering Miss Chubb only by a nod.
“And what,” said the doctor, when he had resumed his usual place, and his usual manner, “what is the news from our young friend, Algernon?”
Mrs. Errington began to recapitulate some of the items in her son’s last letter—the “lords and ladies gay” whose society he frequented; the brilliant compliments that were paid him by word and deed; and the immense success which his talents and attractions met with everywhere.
“Yes; and Algernon is kindly received by other sorts and conditions of men besides the aristocracy of this realm,” said Minnie, with a little ironical smile. “He has shone in evening receptions at Mrs. Machyn-Stubbs’s, and sipped lawyer Leadbeater’s port-wine with appreciative gusto.”
“He has to be civil to people, you know, my dear,” said Mrs. Errington, smoothly. “It wouldn’t do to neglect—a—a—persons who mean to be attentive, merely because they are not quite in our own set.”
“I trust not, indeed, madam!佛山桑拿哪家好 ” exclaimed the doctor, with protruding lips and frowning brow. “It would be exceedingly impolitic in Algernon to turn away from proffered kindness. But I will not put the matter on that ground. I should be sorry to think that a youth who has been—I may say—formed and brought up under my tuition, could be capable of ignoble and ungentlemanlike behaviour.”
Mrs. Bodkin glanced a little apprehensively at Mrs. Errington after this explosion of the doctor’s. But that descendant of all the Ancrams had not the slightest idea of being offended. She was smiling with much complacency, and answered mellifluously to the doctor’s thunder, “Thank you, Dr. Bodkin. Now that is so nice in you to appreciate Algy as you do! He is, and ever was, like his ancestors before him, the soul of gentlemanliness.”
“Algernon was always most popular, I’m 佛山桑拿全套 sure,” said Miss Chubb. “He was a favourite with everybody. Such lively manners! And at home with all classes!”