Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything
- T. Tembarom - 50/104 -
chanced to be.
If it was social success, he would be better off in London, where in these days you could get a good run for your money and could swing yourself up from one rung of the ladder to another if you paid some one to show you how. He himself could show him how. A youngster who had lived the beastly hard life he had lived would be likely to find exhilaration in many things not difficult to purchase. It was an odd thing, by the way, the fancy he had taken to the little early- Victorian spinster. It was not quite natural. It perhaps denoted tendencies--or lack of tendencies--it would also be well to consider. Palliser was a sufficiently finished product himself to be struck greatly by the artistic perfection of Miss Alicia, and to wonder how much the new man understood it.
He did not talk to him about schemes. He talked to him of New York, which he had never seen and hoped sometime shortly to visit. The information he gained was not of the kind he most desired, but it edified him. Tembarom's knowledge of high finance was a street lad's knowledge of it, and he himself knew its limitations and probable unreliability. Such of his facts as rested upon the foundation of experience did not include multimillionaires and their resources.
Captain Palliser passed lightly to Temple Barholm and its neighborhood. He knew places and names, and had been to Detchworth more than once. He had never visited Temple Barholm, and his interest suggested that he would like to walk through the gardens. Tembarom took him out, and they strolled about for some time. Even an alert observer would not have suspected the fact that as they strolled, Tembarom slouching a trifle and with his hands in his pockets, Captain Palliser bearing himself with languid distinction, each man was summing up the other and considering seriously how far and in what manner he could be counted as an asset.
"You haven't been to Detchworth yet?" Palliser inquired.
"No, not yet," answered Tembarom. The Granthams were of those who had not yet called.
"It's an agreeable house. The Granthams are agreeable people."
"Are there any young people in the family? " Tembarom asked.
"Young people? Male or female? " Palliser smilingly put it. Suddenly it occurred to him that this might give him a sort of lead.
"Girls," said Tembarom, crudely--" just plain girls."
Palliser laughed. Here it was, perhaps.
"They are not exactly 'plain' girls, though they are not beauties. There are four Misses Grantham. Lucy is the prettiest. Amabel is quite tremendous at tennis."
"Are they ladies?" inquired Tembarom.
Captain Palliser turned and involuntarily stared at him. What was the fellow getting at?
"I'm afraid I don't quite understand," he said.
The new Temple Barholm looked quite serious. He did not, amazing to relate, look like a fool even when he gave forth his extraordinary question. It was his almost business-like seriousness which saved him.
"I mean, do you call them Lady Lucy and Lady Amabel?" he answered.
If he had been younger, less hardened, or less finished, Captain Palliser would have laughed outright. But he answered without self- revelation.
"Oh, I see. You were asking whether the family is a titled one. No; it is a good old name, quite old, in fact, but no title goes with the estate."
"Who are the titled people about here?" Tembarom asked, quite unabashed.
"The Earl of Pevensy at Pevensy Park, the Duke of Stone at Stone Hover, Lord Hambrough at Doone. Doone is in the next county, just over the border."
"Have they all got daughters?"
Captain Palliser found it expedient to clear his throat before speaking.
"Lord Pevensy has daughters, so has the duke. Lord Hambrough has three sons."
"How many daughters are there--in a bunch?" Mr. Temple Barholm suggested liberally.
There Captain Palliser felt it safe to allow himself to smile, as though taking it with a sense of humor.
"'In a bunch' is an awfully good way of putting it," he said. "It happens to apply perhaps rather unfortunately well; both families are much poorer than they should be, and daughters must be provided for. Each has four. 'In a bunch' there are eight: Lady Alice, Lady Edith, Lady Ethel, and Lady Celia at Stone Hover; Lady Beatrice, Lady Gwynedd, Lady Honora, and Lady Gwendolen at Pevensy Park. And not a fortune among them, poor girls!"
"It's not the money that matters so much," said the astounding foreigner, "it's the titles."
Captain Palliser stopped short in the garden path for a moment. He could scarcely believe his ears. The crude grotesqueness of it so far got the better of him that if he had not coughed he would have betrayed himself.
"I've had a confounded cold lately," he said. "Excuse me; I must get it over."
He turned a little aside and coughed energetically.
After watching him a few seconds Tembarom slipped two fingers into his waistcoat pocket and produced a small tube of tablets.
"Take two of these," he said as soon as the cough stopped. "I always carry it about with me. It's a New York thing called 'G. Destroyer.' G stands for grippe."
Palliser took it.
"Thanks. With water? No? Just dissolve in the mouth. Thanks awfully." And he took two, with tears still standing in his eyes.
"Don't taste bad, do they?" Mr. Temple Barholm remarked encouragingly.
"Not at all. I think I shall be all right now. I just needed the relief. I have been trying to restrain it."
"That's a mistake," said Tembarom. They strolled on a pace or so, and he began again, as though he did not mean to let the subject drop. "It's the titles," he said, "and the kind. How many of them are good- lookers?"
Palliser reflected a moment, as though making mental choice.
"Lady Alice and Lady Celia are rather plain," he said, "and both of them are invalidish. Lady Ethel is tall and has handsome eyes, but Lady Edith is really the beauty of the family. She rides and dances well and has a charming color."
"And the other ones," Tembaron suggested as he paused--"Lady Beatrice and Lady Gwynedd and Lady Honora and Lady Gwendolen."
"You remember their names well," Palliser remarked with a half-laugh.
"Oh, I shall remember them all right," Tembarom answered. "I earned twenty-five per in New York by getting names down fine."
"The Talchesters are really all rather taking. Talchester is Lord Pevensy's family name," Palliser explained. "They are girls who have pretty little noses and bright complexions and eyes. Lady Gwynedd and Lady Honora both have quite fascinating dimples."
"Dimples!" exclaimed his companion. "Good business."
"Do you like dimples particularly?" Palliser inquired with an impartial air.
"I'd always make a bee-line for a dimple," replied Mr. Temple Barholm. "Clear the way when I start."
This was New York phrasing, and was plainly humorous; but there was something more than humor in his eye and smile--something hinting distantly at recollection.
"You'll find them at Pevensy Park," said Palliser.
"What about Lady Joan Fayre?" was the next inquiry.
Palliser's side glance at him was observant indeed. He asked himself how much the man could know. Taking the past into consideration, Lady Joan might turn out to be a subject requiring delicate handling. It was not the easiest thing in the world to talk at all freely to a person with whom one desired to keep on good terms, about a young woman supposed still to cherish a tragic passion for the dead man who ought to stand at the present moment in the person's, figuratively speaking, extremely ill-fitting shoes.
"Lady Joan has been from her first season an undeniable beauty," he replied.
"She and the old lady are going to stay at a place called Asshawe Holt. I think they're going next week," Tembarom said.
"The old lady?" repeated Captain Palliser.
"I mean her mother. The one that's the Countess of Mallowe."
"Have you met Lady Mallowe?" Palliser inquired with a not wholly repressed smile. A vision of Lady Mallowe over-hearing their conversation arose before him.
"No, I haven't. What's she like?"
Previous Page Next Page
1 10 20 30 40 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 60 70 80 90 100 104
Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything