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(Sheila, in disgrace as she was, could not help wondering how he had looked as a bride in his day.)
"Is this the Irish poplin we've heard about
"We were waiting for you to go to dinner," his wife remarked, with elaborate patience, closely resembling ordinary impatience.
HOSTESS AND VISITORS
It was five minutes past three by Greenwich, and five minutes past three by the gilt clock on the drawing-room chimney-piece; but that correspondence between the actual and the apparent time could only occur once in twelve hours, for the gilt clock had not gone for many years. On the present occasion it was afternoon; and the four ladies were seated at work. Henrietta was putting a little more blue into the Prince of Wales's eye. He was in profile (looking up at Her Majesty and politely offering her a dead rabbit), and had but one.
Sheila was answering questions, for Mrs. Burscough was in a gracious mood, and, when that was the case, her conversation took a catechetical form.
"Seventeen!" cried the old lady. "And all living!"
'Oh, no! Nine living."
"We are seven," observed Henrietta, not
intending a quotation from Wordsworth's infant.
"Good gracious, there's the Tufteds' carriage -the second biggest-and Lady Drumshambo in it, and Lord Drum-____"
"Did you expect to see King Solomon in it and the Queen of Sheba?" her mother demanded tartly. In her most placable moments she had usually a little acidity available for Henrietta.
After a due interval, and a ring that lasted three minutes, Jane appeared at the drawingroom door.
Please ma'am, Her Ladyship's compliments, and is Mrs. Hubert Burscough at home!"
"She's in. Didn't you know she was?" "Yes, ma'am. I said so, ma'am. ma'am. But Her Ladyship said I was to come and see. And, My Lord, he gave me these."
Jane had a heavy old silver salver in her hand, and she held it downwards with three cards interposed between it and her thumb.
"Very well. Go and say Mrs. Hubert is in.'
"It's Lord and Lady Drumshambo,” explained Henrietta, come to call-on you,"
she added, that Sheila might be more impressed.
"Do you suppose," asked Mrs. Burscough, "that your sister-in-law imagines they are calling on the cat ? "
'My Lord and My Lady," announced Jane, returning with those noble personages.
Lady Drumshambo looked, as usual, civil, friendly, urbane, and unimpeachable; a viscountess, but a pleasant one; a thoroughly pleasant neighbour, but a viscountess. Lord Drumshambo ambled in almost as if he were trying-very ineffectually-not to look quite as usual, to look as if he didn't really come three or four times a week. But he made for his accustomed chair, and had his eye on it, even while Mrs. Burscough was performing the introductions. But they were quick eyes, and they were quite able to inform him at the same time that he had not rashly engaged for Sheila's being pretty; had she played him false he would have been much annoyed; as it was, he waited to take her hand with a lively sense of approval. He had a moment or two to wait, for his wife was making a little speech.
My dear," she said, with a very pretty cordiality, "if your husband was here I
should congratulate him. He should think himself a lucky man. As it is, I must welcome you to the ranks of the matrons-it is what we all come to." (Eleanor shook her head as one who would say "Too true"; Henrietta thought of Mr. Tromble.) "Lord Drumshambo and I are Irish, too, so we have a special pleasure in coming at once to welcome you to England."
Lady Drumshambo was only forty-four and Mrs. Burscough was nearly seventy, but Sheila could not help feeling that the younger woman was by far the more motherly. It was the first time she had heard the word welcome at Hardstone. Her lovely blue eyes had a rather pathetic light of gratefulness in them as she lifted them to the kind lady's pleasant face.
"They've been Englishing' here," thought my Lady. "I guessed they would."
"Now, Mrs. Burscough, present me," said my Lord.
He promptly took the bride's hand and squeezed it a little. The most correct of elderly gentlemen, he had always a keen eye for beauty, and his heart was quite near his eyes-if we may talk of people's hearts being in their mouths (and it is where some