Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything
- The American Senator - 10/115 -
no reason why he should not succeed at last. Mrs. Masters had told him that Mary would certainly give a little trouble in winning, but would be the more worth the winner's trouble when won. And she had certainly shown no preference for any other young man about the town. There had been a moment when he had much dreaded Mr. Surtees. Young clergymen are apt to be formidable rivals, and Mr. Surtees had certainly made some overtures of friendship to Mary Masters. But Larry had thought that he had seen that these overtures had not led to much, and then that fear had gone from him. He did believe that Mary was now angry because she had not been allowed to walk about Bragton with her old friend Mr. Morton. It had been natural that she should like to do so. It was the pride of Mary's life that she had been befriended by the Mortons and Lady Ushant. But it did not occur to him that he ought to be jealous of Mr. Morton,--though it had occurred to Kate Masters.
There was very little said between the sisters on their way back to the town. Mary was pretty sure now that the two girls had made the appointment with Larry, but she was unwilling to question them on the subject. Immediately on their arrival at home they heard the great news. John Morton was coming to Bragton with a party of ladies and gentlemen. Mrs. Hopkins had spoken of four persons. Mrs. Masters told Mary that there were to be a dozen at least, and that four or five pairs of horses and half a dozen carriages had been ordered from Mr. Runciman. "He means to cut a dash when he does begin," said Mrs. Masters.
"Is he going to stay, mother?"
"He wouldn't come down in that way if it was only for a few days I suppose. But what they will do for furniture I don't know."
"There's plenty of furniture, mother."
"A thousand years old. Or for wine, or fruit, or plate."
"The old plate was there when Lady Ushant left."
"People do things now in a very different way from what they used. A couple of dozen silver forks made quite a show on the old squire's table. Now they change the things so often that ten dozen is nothing. I don't suppose there's a bottle of wine in the cellar."
"They can get wine from Cobbold, mother."
"Cobbold's wine won't go down with them I fancy. I wonder what servants they're bringing."
When Mr. Masters came in from his office the news was corroborated. Mr. John Morton was certainly coming to Bragton. The attorney had still a small unsettled and disputed claim against the owner of the property, and he had now received by the day mail an answer to a letter which he had written to Mr. Morton, saying that that gentleman would see him in the course of the next fortnight.
The Paragon's Party at Bragton
There was certainly a great deal of fuss made about John Morton's return to the home of his ancestors,--made altogether by himself and those about him, and not by those who were to receive him. On the Thursday in the week following that of which we have been speaking, two carriages from the Bush met the party at the Railway Station and took them to Bragton. Mr. Runciman, after due consideration, put up with the inconsiderate nature of the order given, and supplied the coaches and horses as required,--consoling himself no doubt with the reflection that he could charge for the unreasonableness of the demand in the bill. The coachman and butler had come down two days before their master, so that things might be in order. Mrs. Hopkins learned from the butler that though the party would at first consist only of three, two other very august persons were to follow on the Saturday,--no less than Lady Augustus Trefoil and her daughter Arabella. And Mrs. Hopkins was soon led to imagine, though no positive information was given to her on the subject, that Miss Trefoil was engaged to be married to their Master. "Will he live here altogether, Mr, Tankard?" Mrs. Hopkins asked. To this question Mr. Tankard was able to give a very definite answer. He was quite sure that Mr. Morton would not live anywhere altogether. According to Mr. Tankard's ideas, the whole foreign policy of England depended on Mr. John Morton's presence in some capital, either in Europe, Asia, or America,--upon Mr. Morton's presence, and of course upon his own also. Mr. Tankard thought it not improbable that they might soon be wanted at Hong Kong, or some very distant place, but in the meantime they were bound to be back at Washington very shortly. Tankard had himself been at Washington, and also before that at Lisbon, and could tell Mrs. Hopkins how utterly unimportant had been the actual ministers at those places, and how the welfare of England had depended altogether on the discretion and general omniscience of his young master,--and of himself. He, Tankard, had been the only person in Washington who had really known in what order Americans should go out to dinner one after another. Mr. Elias Gotobed, who was coming, was perhaps the most distinguished American of the day, and was Senator for Mickewa.
"Mickey war!" said poor Mrs. Hopkins,--"that's been one of them terrible American wars we used to hear of." Then Tankard explained to her that Mickewa was one of the Western States and Mr. Elias Gotobed was a great Republican, who had very advanced opinions of his own respecting government, liberty, and public institutions in general. With Mr. Morton and the Senator was coming the Honourable Mrs. Morton. The lady had her lady's maid,--and Mr, Morton had his own man; so that there would be a great influx of persons.
Of course there was very much perturbation of spirit. Mrs. Hopkins, after that first letter, the contents of which she had communicated to Reginald Morton, had received various despatches and been asked various questions. Could she find a cook? Could she find two housemaids? And all these were only wanted for a time. In her distress she went to Mrs. Runciman, and did get assistance. "I suppose he thinks he's to have the cook out of my kitchen?" Runciman had said. Somebody, however, was found who said she could cook, and two girls who professed that they knew how to make beds. And in this way an establishment was ready before the arrival of the Secretary of Legation and the great American Senator. Those other. questions of wine and plate and vegetables had, no doubt, settled themselves after some fashion.
John Morton had come over to England on leave of absence for four months, and had brought with him the Senator from Mickewa. The Senator had never been in England before, and was especially anxious to study the British Constitution and to see the ways of Britons with his own eyes. He had only been a fortnight in London before this journey down to the county had been planned. Mr. Gotobed wished to see English country life and thought that he could not on his first arrival have a better opportunity. It must be explained also that there was another motive, for this English rural sojourn. Lady Augustus Trefoil, who was an adventurous lady, had been travelling in the United States with her daughter, and had there fallen in with Mr. John Morton. Arabella Trefoil was a beauty, and a woman of fashion, and had captivated the Paragon. An engagement had been made, subject to various stipulations; the consent of Lord Augustus in the first place,--as to which John Morton who only understood foreign affairs was not aware, as he would have been had he lived in England, that Lord Augustus was nobody. Lady Augustus had spoken freely as to settlements, value of property, life insurance and such matters; and had spoken firmly, as well as freely, expressing doubt as to the expediency of such an engagement;--all of which had surprised Mr. Morton considerably, for the young lady had at first been left in his hands with almost American freedom. And now Lady Augustus and her daughter were coming down on a visit of inspection. They had been told, as had the Senator, that things would be in the rough. The house had not been properly inhabited for nearly a quarter of a century. The Senator had expressed himself quite contented. Lady Augustus had only hoped that everything would be made as comfortable as possible for her daughter. I don't know what more could have been done at so short a notice than to order two carriages, two housemaids, and a cook.
A word or two must also be said of the old lady who made one of the party. The Honourable Mrs. Morton was now seventy, but no old lady ever showed less signs of advanced age. It is not to be understood from this that she was beautiful;---but that she was very strong. What might be the colour of her hair, or whether she had any, no man had known for many years. But she wore so perfect a front that some people were absolutely deluded. She was very much wrinkled;-- but as there are wrinkles which seem to come from the decay of those muscles which should uphold the skin, so are there others which seem to denote that the owner has simply got rid of the watery weaknesses of juvenility. Mrs. Morton's wrinkles were strong wrinkles. She was thin, but always carried herself bolt upright, and would never even lean back in her chair. She had a great idea of her duty, and hated everybody who differed from her with her whole heart. She was the daughter of a Viscount, a fact which she never forgot for a single moment, and which she thought gave her positive superiority to all women who were not the daughters of Dukes or Marquises, or of Earls. Therefore, as she did not live much in the fashionable world, she rarely met any one above herself. Her own fortune on her marriage had been small, but now she was a rich woman. Her husband had been dead nearly half a century and during the whole of that time she had been saving money. To two charities she gave annually five pounds per annum each. Duty demanded it, and the money was given. Beyond that she had never been known to spend a penny in charity. Duty, she had said more than once, required of her that she do something to repair the ravages made on the Morton property by the preposterous extravagance of the old squire in regard to the younger son, and that son's--child. In her anger she had not hesitated on different occasions to call the present Reginald a bastard, though the expression was a wicked calumny for which there was no excuse. Without any aid of hers the Morton property had repaired itself. There had been a minority of thirteen or fourteen years, and since that time the present owner had not spent his income. But John Morton was not himself averse to money, and had always been careful to maintain good relations with his grandmother. She had now been asked down to Bragton in order that she might approve, if possible, of the proposed wife. It was not likely that she should approve absolutely of anything; but to have married without an appeal to her would have been to have sent the money flying into the hands of some of her poor paternal cousins. Arabella Trefoil was the granddaughter of a duke, and a step had so far been made in the right direction. But Mrs. Morton knew that Lord Augustus was nobody, that there would be no money, and that Lady Augustus had been the daughter of a banker, and that her fortune had been nearly
Previous Page Next Page
1 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 115
Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything