« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
of boiling what's left of what you consider your complexion to the colour of red cabbage over the fire. Really, Eleanor, if you choose to have an idiot for your sister, I do not choose to have your imbecile sister making indecent suggestions in my drawing-room. Go out walking, miss, and suggest to the gander to marry a Roman Catholic! If you were as small as you look I should whip you."
Henrietta fled, dissolved in tears. Eleanor had to stay and be browbeaten for her sister's faults.
"I wish," said her mother bitterly, "I had let her go to school. It was your idea getting rid of the governess and teaching her yourself; even Miss Tribble couldn't have made a greater fool of her than you have. I wish you'd find a bigger fool than herself to marry her."
"I really think," murmured Eleanor, "Mr. Tromble will,"
"And he's half baked. It's come to a pass when your father's daughters have to marry semi-idiots of eight and forty, and your mother's sons marry Irish girls with names out of novels."
Mrs. Burscough took off her spectacles and
resumed her knitting; she never knitted anything pretty, but only hard-looking socks of a strong gray colour, with very long feet, for her husband.
"I wonder,” Eleanor conjectured with a timid diplomacy, "if Lady Drumshambo knows the family"
Lord and Lady Drumshambo were undoubtedly Irish, and Castle Shambo was undeniably in Ireland, though Tufted Hall was in Hardstone parish; when Lord Drumshambo and her Ladyship were at Tufted they saw a good deal of the Rector and his family, and Mrs. Burscough enjoyed the intimacy. It might do good, Eleanor thought, to remind her mother that they had Irish friends; and if it should turn out that Lady Drumshambo was able and willing to set her noble imprimatur on the Desmonds, that also would not be without effect.
Perhaps Mrs. Burscough perceived the drift of her daughter's conjecture; she merely coughed and frowned at her knitting.
MY LORD CONSOLES
LORD DRUMSHAMBO called that afternoon, and Eleanor was alone in the dining-room when he was announced. As soon as the servant had left the room she made prompt use of her opportunity.
"Papa is out," she said, "but mamma will be down in a minute. Hubert is engaged to be married to a Miss Desmond, Miss Sheila Desmond, of Ireland-we heard this morning. Papa and Mamma are afraid it's not a very prudent match; you know my brother can't have much; there are seven of us—and it's not likely the young lady will have much either; it appears their family is very large. But I thought you and Lady Drumshambo might know about the Desmonds, and, of course, Papa and Mamma would be interested to hear about them."
What Desmonds?" asked his lordship. "There are a dozen families of the name." "Well, her father is the Reverend Percival
Desmond, and he is rector of a place called Kilballyfrancis.
"A place called Kilballyfrancis! It's one of the most famous towns in Ireland; and let me tell you, Eleanor, Mr. Percival Desmond is a very well-known man-of excellent position."
"Oh, yes, I thought so. They don't live in a rectory but in a towers-Wildcliff Towers. I'm so glad you know the name."
"Know the name! Why it's one of the best in Ireland; a regular Norman family; the Desmonds and de Burghs, the Butlers and the Fitzgeralds, have been in Ireland ever since Henry II's time. We only cropped up under Oliver Cromwell. Mr. Percival Desmond would think small beer of the Ramsdales, I can tell you."
Lord Drumshambo was Sir Timothy Ramsdale, P.C. (for Ireland) grandson of a "Union" Peer, and Hereditary Keeper of the Harp and Irish Crown to Her Majesty.
Eleanor tells me," he went on, as soon as Mrs. Burscough came in, "that Hubert is marrying into the Desmonds of Clonpatrick Castle--"
"That's not the address," said Hubert's mother grimly.
"I know, I know, Mr. Percival Desmond
was a younger son
"Ah!" said Mrs. Burscough, "I thought as much."
"Well, we can't all be eldest sons. Hubert isn't an eldest son-unless Roger and Joshua have been carried off since I saw you last. And, Mrs. Burscough, a younger son of the Desmonds of Clonpatrick is somebody. The head of that family is the Red Knight, let me tell you."
Mrs. Burscough was quite able to perceive that Lord Drumshambo thought a good deal of the Desmonds, and it had its effect; but she perceived it almost too clearly, for he evidently thought her son was finding a wife in circles if anything rather above what his own birth entitled him to. She did not like that at all. The Burscoughs were a far older family than the Ramsdales, though no Burscough had borne a title since Henry III's time. And she herself had been a Miss Llewellyn, and claimed descent from Welsh princes.
The Red Knight!" she remarked coolly. "It sounds like a piece in chess."
Lord Drumshambo was quite irritated.
You'd better not say so to her Ladyship,"