get it over the better. I hear them coming now. I'll
run away by this door like a great coward, and leave
you to do battle alone." She stops a second in the
doorway, says, " You won't mind ? " and shuts the door
after her, as Lord and Lady Oaktorrington enter the
" WHAT, alone, Mr. Allen ? " the marchioness asks,
with a disappointed face, while her eyes visit quickly
every nook and corner of the room. " I I thought
Edith was here. How tiresome of her," she whispers
to her husband.
" By Jove, yes, the little minx," he grunts back.
" She was here," Allen says.
" For long?"
" It seemed to me but a few seconds," he answers,
with a meaning smile, hoping thus to crack the ice at
least. Neithsr the marquis nor marchioness see it.
They only mutter :
" So like her" and "Isn't it?" to each other.
" I'm afraid you must find it very dull," Lady Oak-
torrington says, after a moment or two's whispered
conference with her husband. " I can't make out
where Freddy has gone."
1 84 ARISTOCRACY.
Lord Oaktorrington smiles behind his hand.
Freddy has received strict orders to keep out of
the way, and is at the present moment engaged in for-
warding his two-hundred-pound check to Coutts & Co.,
to be placed to his credit.
" Lord Oaktorrington will take you a drive in his
phaeton after luncheon. Won't you, my dear ? "
His lordship says :
" Oh, yes. Delighted," aloud, and " Blow it all ! "
" Like to have a look about the place ? " he says
to Allen. " Seen the stables ? "
" No, I haven't."
" Come along, then."
" I should like to have a few words with you both,
first," Allen says. " It won't take long."
Lord and Lady Oaktorrington exchange glances.
It can't be possible, they think, that he can mean any-
thing about Edith, so soon as this.
" Oh, certainly," Lady Oaktorrington says, with a
hopeful smile, notwithstanding. " I wonder what it
can be about. Sit down, my dear," to her husband.
" I am not surprised at your feeling wonder," Allen
goes on, " for I have known her "
At the sound of the personal pronoun, Lady Oak-
torrington gives a slight cough, and elevates her eye-
brows at the marquis. He replies by a wink.
" Such a short time."
" Yes ? " says Lady Oaktorrington, bowing gra-
ciously. " Pray go on."
" I don't generally find it awkward or difficult to
say what I mean," he continues. " But I confess to
considerable hesitancy in speaking to you on this
" How infernally long-winded these Yankees are ! "
mutters the marquis to himself. " Why can't the fel-
low speak plain English ? "
" Yes, yes. Pray tell us. It is some trouble Freddy
has got into I'm afraid," Lady Oaktorrington says.
" I'm blowed if I pay another farthing for the beg-
gar, if that's it," growls the marquis.
" It hasn't anything whatever to do with your son,"
Allen answers. " I will not waste words further. Know,
then, that I love your daughter "
Lady Oaktorrington straightens up with dignified
astonishment. " Really. This is indeed a surprise,
Mr. Allen. And may I ask which one ?"
" Edith, if I may call her so."
" Edith? Why, you have scarcely exchanged two
words with the child. You can not be serious."
" Indeed I am."
" Pray go on."
" Of course, you must know what next I would say.
I ask your consent yours and Lord Oaktorrington 's
to to "
" To your speaking to her ? " kindly helps out the
marchioness. " I hardly know what to say. I really
know so little about Edith. She is so secretive and
silent, and never confides in me, poor dear. Her affec-
tions may be engaged elsewhere, and "
" I can answer for that," Allen says, proudly. " I
know they are not."
" Oh, you do ? And pray how do you know ? Who
has told you? "
" The deuce ! " exclaims the marquis.
" Herself ? " echoes Lady Oaktorrington, drawing
back and knitting her brows. " And do you mean to
say" you have spoken to her already ? "
" Why, of course."
" And engaged her affections without first asking
our permission? "
" I'm very sorry, but "
" Really, Mr. Allen, this is most unheard of. Such
a thing never happened with us before. What would
all our relatives say, were they to hear of it ! "
" I'm sure I can not see that you should be so
offended," Allen says, in a hurt tone. " Perhaps you
consider it a presumption on my part to aspire to the
hand of "
" Oh, no, no, not that, not that. Pray don't think
that, Mr. Allen," Lady Oaktorrington cries, seeing that
she may be carrying family dignity a trifle too far.
"Of course, it is a great compliment." Allen bows,
while she elevates her eyebrows at her husband, who
replies by a grimace.
" I assure you I consider the honor all on my side."
" It's very good of you to say so, I'm sure," Lady
Oaktorrington says, graciously. " Of course, you don't
understand our ways. You can't be expected to. But
in England a gentleman of our class never dreams of
approaching the subject of love with a girl without first
declaring his intentions to her parents."
" Does he not, indeed ? " says Allen. " It's a pity
the rule is not followed out as strictly after marriage
and the husbands of pretty wives accorded the same
right," he adds, to himself. " There would be fewer
There is another pause.
"Well," says Lady Oaktorrington, " I suppose, then,
you mean that you want our consent to "
" Our marriage. I'm sure you will have no objec-
tion. I dare say I may have no rank, but I love her
truly and dearly, and I'll be very good and kind to her
and take such care of her."
" Then you've actually proposed to her and been
accepted without our knowing anything about it."
Although mutual glances of satisfaction are imme-
diately exchanged between Lord and Lady Oaktor-
rington, her ladyship thinks it incumbent upon her as
an upholder of aristocratic propriety and decorum to
display her high-bred indignation. She is now quite
safe, she thinks, in doing so.
" Really, Mr. Allen, you must pardon me when I
tell you that you have been guilty of a gross breach
of etiquette. We, don't allow our daughters to be
treated as our footmen treat their sweethearts."
Allen's eyes flash.
" It's a pity you don't," he says, before he can stop
himself. "There would be less artifice about them,
and more nature, if you did. But let us forget all
about that," he says, good-humoredly, fearing he has
jeopardized his happiness by what he has said. " I'm
very sorry, and I won't do it again," he adds, with a
smile. " I can't say more than that. I may feel, then,
that I have your consent ? "
Lady Oaktorrington looks at her husband and
nods. He nods back. "
"Yes, I suppose so," she says. " I suppose so."
" Oh, thank you so very much. It is very good of
1 88 ARISTOCRACY.
you. You have made me very happy. I'll go at
once and tell her."
l< Come," he thinks to himself. " They are not such
dreadful ogres after all."
" Wait a moment," says Lady Oaktorrington, as
Allen is making for the door. " Not quite so fast,
please. There are one or two conditions, you know."
" Rather," acquiesces the marquis.
" Yes ? What ? " Allen asks, with a surprised face.
"We must know about your affairs, don't you
" Oh, of course," says Allen, lightly. " That's all
right. You needn't have any fear about them. I
don't think I shall experience much difficulty in keep-
ing a wife handsomely. I suppose that's all you want
Lord Oaktorrington laughs outright.
" Is it, indeed ? " he says. " I think we shall want
to know a little more than that."
"Recollect," says Lady Oaktorrington, "that we
know positively nothing about your means your
ahem your money, don't you know."
" Quite true," says Allen. " No more you do.
Nor about my family at home and my relations. I
haven't got much of either. Only a father, a couple
of uncles, one aunt, and "
"Oh, we don't care about them," says Lady Oak-
torrington, impatiently. " We want to know about
" Don't you think he'd better go up and see Fair-
field ? " suggests the marquis. " It's an awful bore
" Who's Fairfield ? " asks Allen.
" Our lawyer our family solicitor," answers Lady
"What have I to do with him? Must. I get his
consent, too ? "
" Yes, in a measure. If he's not satisfied with
your money-matters, we can not give ours."
" But you have given it."
" Oh, come," says the marquis. " We're only wast-
ing time bandying words about it. You may evade
telling us, but he'll get it out of you, never fear."
" Get it out of me ? " says Allen, quickly, " I don't
" You don't comprehend anything, it seems, un-
less you want to," replies the marquis, standing up.
" Hush, my dear," says Lady Oaktorrington, and
the marquis sits down again. " There's no good in
quarreling over it ; and perhaps we can do without Mr.
Fairfield's assistance for the present, if you will tell us,
Mr. Allen, what your income is, and what your means
and prospects are."
" I have no fixed income," says Allen.
" What ? " cry the marquis and marchioness in a
"Father gives me all the money I want. He's
never refused me a cent a penny yet."
" Then you have no means of your own ? "
" Yes, I've got ten thousand dollars invested in a
"How much is that in our money?" asks Lady
Oaktorrington with returning confidence.
"About two thousand pounds."
" Good heavens ! That's only about How much
dear ? "
IC p ARISTOCRACY.
" Sixty pounds a year at three per cent," says the
marquis. " Our butler has more than that. Just
fancy ! "
" Really, I am surprised at you, Mr. Allen, expect-
ing us to give you one of our daughters, with no
more than that."
" Yes, but I know father will give me something
regular. He's the director of two or three railroads,
and will get me put in as secretary on one of them.
That will give me a fine salary. Besides, he'll build us
a fine residence to live in, and I know, if I manage
him right, he'll give us all the money we shall want to
" Then you are really and actually dependent upon
your father for everything, and have nothing but in-
definite prospects ? " says Lady Oaktorrington. " Of
course, you can't settle anything on Edith ? "
" Settle ? No, of course not. But what need to
settle anything. Father will leave me everything. In
fact, General Hodge, his attorney, told me in confidence
the old man made his will that way. Won't that be
" It's very uncertain and indefinite. He might
change his mind and revoke his will at any moment.
Wouldn't he settle something on your wife ? "
Allen shakes his head.
" I should dislike to ask him. He's very crotch-
ety about such things, and his great fear is that some
one should marry me for money. It would spoil all
to ask him to settle any money. He wouldn't under-
" Don't you have marriage settlements in Amer-
ARISTOCRACY. l g l
" I never heard of one, there."
" Does he know of your wish to marry our daugh-
"Yes. I've written to tell him."
" Then he must know the necessity of some settle-
ment being made."
" It is about the last thing to enter his head. He
is not a very great believer in marriage, at best, and
of all things he detests most is a marriage for money.
My mother married him when he was a poor man,
struggling for his living."
Lord and Lady Oaktorrington again exchange
" Fancy not getting money with such a low connec-
tion ! " thinks one.
" Talk of the degradation of the peerage after
this ! " thinks the other.
" You haven't said anything to him about money,
then ? " asks Lady Oaktorrington.
"Not a word. I know better than that. He'd
be against my marrying at all. I know if we leave it
as it is it will be all right. I know I can manage
" Oh, we could never agree to that," says the mar-
chioness, decisively, with a haughty stare.
" No fear," mutters the marquis. " We're not
quite so green as that."
" You see," Lady Oaktorrington continues, " it
is not as though we could give Edith much our-
" I don't want anything," replies Allen, quickly.
"I want nothing with her, and nothing but her."
" Oh, of course we should settle something upon
I 9 2
her. It can't be a great deal, for we haven't it to
Allen opens his eyes in amazement.
" No doubt you think it strange," Lady Oaktor-
rington goes on. " But all the estates are strictly
entailed, and go to our eldest son. Then from what
remains we must first provide for our other three
" Three ? " says Allen. " I only know of two."
" You've never seen Cecil. He's at Eton, you
know, and only comes home for the holidays. Then,
after them, come our three daughters."
" Three ? " repeats Allen. " Is there a third ? "
" Yes, Maude. You've not seen her either. She's
in the school-room still."
" Oh, at school. I didn't know."
"No, not at school," replies Lady Oaktorrington,
contemptuously. " Fancy our sending one of our
girls to school ! She has a governess, of course."
"Where is she?"
" Where ? Why, here, of course, where should
she be ? "
" And I've never seen her ? " asks Allen. " Is
she an invalid ? "
" Indeed, no. Girls in the school-room are not
likely to be seen by any one. You wouldn't be likely
to see her until she comes out."
" Poor thing," says Allen. Has she much longer
to stay in in " he is all but saying "her prison,"
but tactically substitutes, " the school-room."
" Only seven or eight years."
" And does she never go out of the house ? "
" Of course she does with her governess."
ARISTOCRACY. ! 93
"And do you mean to say you never see her
either ? "
" Really, Mr. Allen, you show a marvelous inter-
est in the child. Certainly, I see her at least twice
every day. I go to the nursery when she has her din-
ner, and look in to say good-night when she goes to
" Have all your daughters been treated like that ?
Edith, too ? "
" Exactly like that," Lady Oaktorrington answers,
stiffly. " You seem to disapprove of our way of bring-
ing up our girls."
" I must say it's awfully artificial and unnatural,"
Allen replies, candidly.
" You are quite satisfied with Edith, however ? "
"Yes, I am, I admire her more than ever now.
What a lot of character she must have ! "
" Suppose we go on with what we were talking
about. I say we can only give Edith a few thousand
" And I say I don't want a farthing with her."
"Then, all the more reason is there that you
should make some settlement upon her. Now, to be
plain, as you can't do so yourself, your father must.
Otherwise, we must decline your offer."
" But don't you see, can't you see, dear Lady Oak-
torrington," Allen urges. " that I can't ask him."
4< Skittles ! " says the marquis, " you must, if you
want Edith. You must communicate with him at once,
and on his answer depends our consent."
Lady Oaktorrington rises, and Lord Oaktorring-
ton, like an unchained dog, makes a break for the
" Stay a moment, please," Allen says. " I will do
as you wish, but I honestly tell you I fear the conse-
quences. I shall cable to father at once. A letter
would take too long. Have you a telegraphic blank
a form, you call it here ? Now, then."
He seats himself at the writing-table, and takes up
a pen. As he is about to begin, he pauses and thinks
for a minute or two : " You are quite determined not
to allow her to marry me unless I do this ? " he asks.
" Quite," says the marchioness.
" Rather," observes the marquis.
" And you wont allow her to marry me in the way
I suggest ? "
" Decidedly not."
" No fear."
" Would she marry me herself without their con-
sent," he asks himself. " She is of age. No, this
would never do. It would cause a scandal that she
could never face. It will be time enough to think of
that if this fails." He takes up the pen again and
writes rapidly :
" Will you settle dollars on my wife ? "
He hands the form to Lady Oaktorrington, and
" I have left the sum blank. Be kind enough to
fill in what you think right."
Lord and Lady Oaktorrington read it over to-
gether, and confer in an undertone.
" We don't know anything about dollars," Lady
Oaktorrington says, handing the paper back to Allen.
"Can't you put it in pounds."
" If you will say how much in pounds you want, it
will be sufficient," Allen says, " I can turn it into dol-
lars. Talk of the heathen Chinese buying their
wives ! " he thinks to himself. " And these people
are the cream of civilized Europe ! I feel as if I were
bargaining for a horse."
Lord and Lady Oaktorrington have a whispered
conference, while Allen is left to his own thoughts.
" We think," says Lady Oaktorrington, at last,
" that thirty thousand pounds would be right."
Allen takes the paper with a sarcastic smile.
" Is that all ? Why that is only a hundred and
fifty thousand dollars. You ought to have said a
million while you were about it. Father would give it
quite as willingly."
He can not keep back a sneer as he says this.
These English aristocrats will, he finds, stand any-
thing for money.
" Eh ? What ? " says the marquis, all alive in a
minute. Then in an audible whisper to the marchion-
ess : " I told you you didn't make it high enough.
You were a fool not to double it."
Allen looks at him with a face full of repugnance
and disgust, but the glitter of gold is too strong in the
marquis's eyes for him to see it.
" Never mind. This will do," he says, folding up
the paper. " And now, how can I get this sent ? It
ought to go at once."
" I'll drive you in to Hertford myself," Lord Oak-
torrington says, ringing the bill.
As Allen goes to his room to make some prepa-
rations for the drive, he meets Lady Edith on the
" I'm afraid you've had a dreadful time of it," she
says, with a white face and wide open eyes as she
studies his features for a clew to the result. " It has
all gone wrong. I feared it would."
" No, indeed, it hasn't," he answers, with a smile.
" It has gone right enough. Not, perhaps, exactly in
accord with my views, but "
" Oh, I know. There's been a lot of trouble about
" What of it ? You are worth every bit of it."
" Every bit of what ? The money ? " with a depre-
" No : the trouble."
LORD OAKTORRINGTON'S shooting-party assembles
next morning at eleven. It consists of six guns : him-
self, Freddy, three neighbors viz., the Earl of Went-
worth, his son the Honorable Percy Knollys (pro-
nounced Knowles), and Sir Herbert Wemyss (pro-
nounced Weames) and Allen.
" I don't know if you understand breechloaders,"
Lord Oaktorrington says to Allen, pointing to the gun
he has lent him. " I dare say not. But I've given
directions to one of my keepers to stay by you, and
he'll show you how it works."
" Thanks," Allen replies, with a smile. " I think
I shall be able to manage."
"Much cover shooting in the States?" the mar-
quis asks, as they walk along.
" None at all that I ever heard of," Allen tells him.
" What ? " exclaims Lord Oaktorrington. " Then,
of course, you know nothing about it. Perhaps you'd
batter not come, you know. It's awfully difficult and
sharp work, and unless you understand it, you'll find
it very stupid and dull. I should strongly advise you
to go back."
" No, thanks," says Allen, carelessly. " I expect
to make a fool of myself, but I shan't mind."
" I shall, though," groans Lord Oaktorrington to
himself. " What an ass I was to lend him the gun.
It will be the joke of the county for a month. Look
here, then, if you will persist in coming, let me
give you a few hints. When we get to those trees
over there we shall stand round them about twenty
yards apart. The beaters will go in and drive out the
pheasants. As the birds fly out we pot 'em, don't you
know. You must be careful not to shoot at another
fellow's bird, and always fire low. Of course, you
know, you must only shoot at birds on the wing."
" Really ! " says Allen, " you don't mean it ? "
" Deuced lucky I told him," thinks the marquis.
" Then I mustn't shoot at a bird sitting ? " Allen
asks. " I shall never hit one flying, I'm afraid."
" I shouldn't try. Suppose you just look on at
us to-day, and next time you'll know how to do it
" I can't think how you can have time to aim at a
flying bird," Allen goes on. " I should think it
would be impossible to hit one."
" Wait until you see," says Lord Oaktorrington,
proudly. " We'll show you."
They reach the cover, a clump of leafless trees
some two hundred yards in circumference with a
thickish undergrowth of bushes, and the party ranges
itself around it without loss of time. Allen, who in-
sists on " having a try," is placed in a wide vacancy,
the distances between the other men being lessened
to give him the extra room.
" Devilish clever dodge of mine, that," thinks
Lord Oaktorrington. " And mind, Smith," he says to
one of the keepers, " that you stick close by him, and
see that he gets on all right. He's rather inexperi-
enced. You understand ? "
"Yesm' lud," the man replies, touching his hat.
" He do look different, that's true. I'll lay a tanner
he knows more than he lets on," he adds to himself.
On Allen's right is Lord Wentworth, a pompous
old gentleman with a red face and gray whiskers ; on
his left, Sir Herbert Wemyss, a downy-faced boy with
long legs, a narrow chest, a thin neck, and an eye-
glass. Lord Oaktorrington has put himself as much
out of harm's way as possible on the other side.
The beaters set to work vigorously with voice and
stick, and presently a babel of tongues bursts forth.
" Mark cock to the right ! "
" Mark cock to the left ! "
" Mark cock forward ! "
" Mark right ! "
" Mark left ! "
" Mark forward ! "
Allen who is nearly stunned by the noise, and be-
wildered by the conflicting announcements, then hears
six double shots follow each other in quick succession.
A cock pheasant flies straight up from the left, giving
a sort of aerial start as Lord Wentworth discharges
both barrels into space after him, and keeps on past
Allen. As the bird's head and neck cross Allen's
front, he raises his gun lightly, and fires. The bird
seems to explode a bunch of feathers in the air, turns
head over heels, and drops with a thump at Allen's
" By cricky ! " says the keeper behind him. " I
knowed he was the right sort."
Lord Wentworth and Sir Herbert Wemyss imme-
diately approach each other :
" My bird," says Lord Wentworth, motioning to the
keeper to pick it up.
"Aw. Beg pardon," says Sir Herbert, adjusting
his eyeglass. " I was on the point of making a similar
remark myself, don't you know. Eh ? "
" What ? Do you mean to say you claim it ?
Nonsense. It was my last shot that fetched him
" Awfully sorry, don't you know, but I was the first
to fire. I saw him stagger, and timed him to fall about
" If you will excuse me, my lud, and you too, Sir
Herbert," says the keeper. " But this be this here gen-
tleman's shot. I see's him shoot the bird with my
" Don't be impertinent, sir," answers Lord Went-
worth, " or I shall at once complain to your master."
" I never heard the like," says Sir Herbert Weymss.
" I shall certainly speak to Lord Oaktorrington about
" I hopes no offense, my lud," the keeper begs.
" This gentleman hisself will say the "
" Oh, never mind," says Allen, with a laugh. " It
doesn't matter in the least. I have no doubt the bird
belongs to both of you."
By this time the entire party have come together,
and discuss the claims of both parties, ending by allot-
ting it to Sir Herbert."
" We all know a pheasant will carry a charge of
shot five minutes before he falls," decides Lord Oak-
" Of course, if Sir Herbert fired the first shot, and
saw the bird, as he says, stagger, why, of course, the
bird must be his."
" I never heard such awful rubbish," shouts Lord
Wentworth, with flashing eyes. " Fancy any one abid-
ing by it ! I shall go home at once. It's useless to
waste cartridges here."
"Oh, pray accept the bird," Allen says to Lord
" Accept the bird ? " exclaims Lord Wentworth.
" What do you mean, sir ? The bird is mine, not yours
" Well, have it so. Don't let us waste any more