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her in another, both of them with their backs to the door.
When Hilda had given vent to her feelings in a clear voice,
both of them were startled by another voice behind them.

" Then there will not be the slightest difficulty about your
having your way."

What unfortunate chance had brought Lady Wrotham to
that (by her) little-frequented spot at that moment ? Exer-
cised with the details of her campaign against the Vicar, she
had chosen a time when she thought few people would be
likely to be about the church, to walk into it and refresh her



286 Exton Manor

memory about certain details of altar furniture and the like,
and had entered unheard just in time to hear herself de-
nounced in the words above recounted.

Hilda turned round and faced her scornfully. Norah
looked deeply distressed, but was too much at a loss for
words.

" Of course you are Miss Redcliffe," said the great lady,
steadying herself, with her stick, and holding herself in an
upright and stately manner in spite of her lameness and her
lack of inches. " I should have overlooked your previous
rudeness, as I wished to do all that lay in my power to put an
end to this disagreeable business. But I cannot overlook this.
I had supposed that what was repeated to me was exaggerated.
I now see that it was not so. You are a very rude and imper-
tinent girl."

Hilda flushed, and would have retorted hotly, but Norah
stopped her. " Don't say anything, Hilda," she pleaded ;
" you will only be sorry for it afterwards. Lady Wrotham,
I am very sorry you came in just then. We were only just
beginning to talk it over, and "

" I am very glad I "did come in," said Lady Wrotham un-
compromisingly. " I now see that any efforts I could make
towards a better understanding would be useless, and I shall
not attempt to make them. I will leave Miss Redcliffe to
herself, but I shall be glad to have a word with you, Mrs.
O'Keefe, outside/ ■ She turned and limped majestically
through the door.

Norah hesitated, but Hilda said, " Oh, go and talk to her,
and make friends for yourself. She is much better worth
knowing than we are. Only don't apologize for me, for I
meant every word I said, and would say them again."

" I shall go, and I shall come back again," Norah said, and
left her.

Lady Wrotham was walking slowly along the churchyard
path. She turned round as Norah came out of the porch.
" You see," she said angrily, " it is no use going any farther.
All my efforts towards conciliation are just thrown in my face.
That girl is impossible. You must consider my intention of
yesterday withdrawn. I shall do nothing more."

" Oh, but, Lady Wrotham," pleaded Norah. " Mrs; Red-
cliffe said that she would be pleased to see you, and I "

" I can't sec Mrs. Redcliffe without seeing her daughter,



Norah's Attempt 287

and that I will not do, to lay myself open to further imperti-
nence. I have done with the Redcliffes. I am sick of them.
I wish to hear nothing more about them. They must take
their way, and I will take mine. Don't mention their name
to me again. I want you to come to luncheon with me, and
to go for a long drive with me afterwards. It is a lovely day,
and we will go into the forest."

" Thank you, Lady Wrexham," said Norah, " but I'm afraid
I can't do that."

"Oh, you have an engagement. But "

" No, I have no engagement. But the Redcliffes are my
friends, and now is the time that I must be with them, and not
witli those who are at enmity with them."

14 What ! You think that girl was right to speak of me in
that way ? "

" I don't say so. But, right or wrong, they are my friends,
andT love them."

" Then you mean that you refuse to be a friend of mine ? "

" I should be glad to be a friend of yours. But I can't as
long as you are against them."

She was very pretty, standing in front of the great little lady
with a flush on her cheeks, and an air of half-regretful bold-
ness, but Lady Wrotham was not now affected by her pretti-
ness. She turned away in an undisguised rage.

" Very well, then," she said over her shoulder as she
stumped off. " You may do as you please, and I don't want
to see you any more."

• And so ended at the same time Norah's attempt at media-
tion and her short alliance with Lady Wrotham.



CHAPTER XXVI

ARRIVALS

What Mr. Prentice in the pulpit might have called, and
probably did call, the glad season of Whitsuntide, not only
brought the pleasant feeling that summer had definitely*
arrived, if not by the almanac, by its gift of flowers and
foliage, genial warmth and long days, but to the Manor of
Exton some increase of population. It brought Mr. Dale to
the Lodge, very hearty and pleased with himself and with
everything he found there, and with him came Mrs. Dale,
pleased, too, at the change in her surroundings, but pleased
in a more placid manner ; and Lotty and Mary and Ada
and Tom and Peter and Gladys Dale, likewise pleased,
quietly, vociferously, complacently or riotously, according to
their several natures. It brought Mr. and Mrs. Ferraby to
the other Lodge, two miles away in the forest, and with
them a house party as large as it could be made consistent
with the comfort demanded by the smart and lively people
from among whom Mr. and Mrs. Ferraby's friends w r ere
chiefly drawn. It brought to the Abbey, Lord Wrotham,
who had announced his intention of spending a week there
the day before he actually arrived, and it brought, after due
notice and consideration on both sides, Lady Syde, the widow
of the late Lord Wrotham's younger brother, General Sir
Franklin Syde,

Lord Wrotham arrived at the Abbey early in the afternoon
while his mother was out for her afternoon drive. Her
absence, however, did not appear to cause him much regret,
and he had not been in the house more than five minutes
when he was out of it again and making his way across the
park towards the White House.

283



Arrivals 289

Mrs. Redcliffe and Hilda were sitting under the shade of
a lime tree on the lawn working and reading. Hilda looked
up as the little wicket gate which gave entrance from the
park into the garden shut to, and saw him coming.
" Mother," she said, in some perturbation, " here is Lord
Wrotham. What shall we do ? "

There was nothing to be done but to await his coming.
" Here I am, you see," he said, when he was within speak-
ing distance. " Just come down and having a look round.
How are you, Mrs. Redcliffe ? How are you, Miss Red-
cliffe ? Jolly weather, isn't it ! And how has the world been
using you ? "

It might have been rather difficult to give him an answer
to that question, if he had required one. But apparently
he did not, for he went on without pausing, " Ripping garden
you've got here. Just the place to sit in on sunny after-
noons and enjoy yourself."

u Hilda, fetch Lord Wrotham another chair," said Mrs.
Redcliffe.

Hilda got up to do so. " No, don't you trouble. I'll fetch
it," he said.

" You don't know where they are," said Hilda, and walked
across the lawn towards the house, which gave him the oppor-
tunity of accompanying her.

Hilda broke in upon some pleasant nothings that he began
to say to her, looking at him with clear eyes. " I ought to
tell you," she said, " that we are not friends with Lady
Wrotham. In fact, we don't know her and are not likely
to. She did something that I think was very wrong of her,
and she overheard me say something about her that she was
angry about."

" Dear me, that's a bad job," he said. " Still, as long as
I don't overhear you saying something about me that I should
be angry about — but you wouldn't do that, would you ? "

He looked at her out of the corners of his eyes with an
expression that made her laugh, rather against her will.
" You are so funny," she said, " that I can't help laughing
at whatever you say. But this has not been a laughing
matter to us, and I don't know that you ought to come
here, considering the terms we are on with Lady Wrotham.
Does she know that you have come ? "

They were standing by the door of a shed in which garden

K (15)



290 Exton Manor

accessories were kept, and she seemed in no hurry to get
one of the chairs that were in it and return to the lawn.
Neither was he in a hurry.

" Well, to tell you the truth, I haven't seen her yet," he
said. " I've only just got down, and she's out driving. But
what has she been saying to upset you ? Don't you go to
her meetings ? Y

" It isn't that. She — she, oh, I don't know how to tell
you. But mother said she thought you must have known —
about — about her marriage."

" Oh, lor, yes, I know all about it. But surely she hasn't
been making a fuss about that ! "

" She has, and she told it to a horrible woman, the wife of
the Vicar, who actually told us that we ought to be driven
out of the place because of it."

" Well, upon my word, that's pretty thick. She'll be
driven out of the place herself if she isn't careful. Look
here, Miss Redcliffe, I'll make it up between you and my
mother. She likes to have her own way about things, and
if people don't knuckle under to her she's quite capable of
making it unpleasant for them ; but she's not as bad as all
that. I mean that she wouldn't lay into people because of
— well, what you've told me."

" I don't think I want it made up, thank you. I'm bound
to say that mother would have done so. She's so good, and
can't bear being at enmity with anybody. And Lady
Wrotham did arrange to come up here to see mother. I
don't know whether she would have put it all straight or only
just made it a little less awkward for herself by coming. But
she heard me say that I didn't want to see her. I said it
to Mrs. O'Keefe in the church, and Lady Wrotham came in
and heard me. She was very angry, and, I believe, washed
her hands of us from that moment."

" Well, it's a great pity, and the loss is hers."

" I ought to tell you," Hilda went on, " that mother was
not pleased about what had happened. She thought that
Lady Wrotham had only meant to be kind in suggesting that
she should come here and see mother. But I don't know.
I shouldn't have cared to risk it. I will stand up for mother
against anybody, even where she won't stand up for herself.
And I can't pretend to be altogether sorry that it happened
as it did."

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Arrivals 291

" You're quite right, Miss Redcliffe. Still, we must try
and put things straight somehow. I say, let's go and have
a look at those flowering shrubs up there. I'm a whale on
flowering shrubs. We've got a lot of them at Hurstbury."

Hilda hesitated a moment, and then consented to appease*
his passion for flowering shrubs. They went up the hill be-
hind the house to a little stretch of wild garden, but, having
arrived there, Lord Wrotham seemed to have lost some of his
horticultural fervour, and the flowering shrubs attracted less
attention from him than Hilda herself. He was quite in his
element, and made rapid headway in his intimacy with her,
and in such a manner that she talked and laughed with him as
she had hardly done since Lady Wrotham and Mrs. Prentice
had brought strife to the White House ; recovered some of her
naturally high spirits, and was as near to falling in love with
the gaiety and happy temper of her companion as he might
have wished, if his attitude to her was to be taken as a guide,
that she should fall in love with himself.

Mrs. Redcliffe, still at her needlework under the lime tree,
looked up with a smile of pleasure as she heard Hilda's clear
laugh on their way back across the lawn to join her, Lord
Wrotham carrying an extra basket-chair on his head. She had
not heard her laugh like that for a long time. But a shade of
anxiety was on her face too as she looked at them, caused by
something in her secret thoughts.

Lord Wrotham stayed to tea and made himself unaffectedly
and delightfully at home. And he stayed for half-an-hour
after tea w r as over. When at last he did find it incumbent on
him to take his departure, he suggested that the ladies should
stroll across the park with him towards the Abbey. This in-
vitation was refused, but they walked with him to the little
gate in the fence and bade him farewell, still on a note of
laughter and friendliness.

My lord walks home quickly, brushing off the yellow dust
of the buttercups as he goes, swinging his stick in a blithe and
happy mood. Once he stops under the evening shade of a
tali elm to run his eye over a group of farm horses gratefully
cropping the cool May grasses after their day's work. Ha
gives them no more than a moment's inspection, but walks on
again swinging his stick with his eyes on the ground. The
grey walls of the old Abbey front him, the most beautiful of
the three fine houses he calls his own, set like a jewel in the



292 Exton Manor

midst of woods and fields, red roofs and shining water, and his
lordship's pleasant young face is thoughtful. He turns back
to take a look at the pretty spacious cottage he has left. One
side of it can be seen through the trees, its windows shining in
the light of the westering sun, as if they were eyes, contem-
plating calmly, but unemulously, across the stretch of grass
land its more stately neighbour. What if he should bridge the

distance between the two by ! He hardly formulates the

idea, but his eager mind allows it entrance among all the
other thronging interests and excitements that occupy him.
It may come to be thought over. For the present, seize the
day and rely as little as may be on the morrow.

The Dale family has taken possession of their new house,
and all is bustle and business and pleasurable anticipation at
the Lodge. Mr. Dale with his coat off and a large cigar,
decked with a w r aistcoat of red and gold stamped paper, in his
mouth, his own capacious fancy waistcoat, bound across by a
heavy chain, hardly less resplendent, is directing the hanging
of his collection of real oil paintings, bought, as he will tell
you, to please himself and not the critics, which assuredly they
would not have done. Some are to go in the hall and some
in the dining-room. The water-colours for the drawing-room
and the engravings for the library and breakfast -room will
come next, but the real oil paintings now possess all his mind,
and he is giving loud, minute, frequently contradictory, but
always good-tempered instructions to the two men in green
baize aprons who are there to carry them out. He is not
above lending a hand himself where he thinks it is wanted,
and occasionally mounts the first few steps of the step-ladder
with extreme caution to do so, but does not trust himself on
the higher altitudes. He is quite happy and would not have
had the appalling confusion around him reduced, without his
taking part in its reduction, for anything.

Mrs. Dale is engaged in bringing order out of chaos in the
linen and china closets, going about her work with a placidity
that only disguises the thoroughness and capability which she
is bringing to bear on her task. She is assisted by two cheer-
ful, broad-faced North country maids and b}/ Ada, her second
daughter, who is domestically inclined. Lotty, the eldest, is
also domestically inclined, but her domesticity is at present
submerged in a haze of love-sickness, and she has retired to
O)



Arrivals 293

her room to snatch a few undisturbed moments for the perusal
of a letter which she already knows by heart. She is not so
pleasurably excited at the family's move to Exton as the resi
of them, was indeed rather averse to it, as removing her from
the object of her affections, but looks forward to leaving it
again in a few months' time, and thinks that after all a real
country wedding will be preferable to being married from a
suburb of Manchester

Mary, the third daughter, is putting her own room into
order, leaving off every now and then to look out of the win-
dow at the woods and the river. She is artistically inclined,
and thinks there ought to be plenty of " bits to sketch."

Torn, with a briar pipe in his mouth, in knickerbockers, as
is only fitting in the country, and brown boots with boxcloth
spats, strolls down to have a look at the river, which he in-
spects with a knowing air, and shouldn't be surprised if you
couldn't get a bit of sport there with a fly, as if the mysteries
of fly-fishing were an open book to him, which they are not,
the only kind of book which he thoroughly understands being
that with which he is rapidly forming a useful acquaintance in
his father's office. He will go back to Manchester in a day
or two and work like the capable young business man he is,
but in the meantime he is a country gentleman's son, and must
play the part, or as near as he can get to it. His remarks are
received with reverence, as of an oracle, by his younger brother
Peter, who shadows him everywhere, and by Gladys, Peter's
twin, who shadows Peter.

In the midst of the picture-hanging Browne walks in, and
is received with vociferous warmth. Mr. Dale, not sorry for
the short respite from his labours, suggests liquid refreshment,
which Browne accepts. Mr. Dale lifts his glass before drink-
ing from it, and says, " Well, here's luck, Mr. — er. I hope
we shall see you here very often. It'll be Liberty Hall, and
you'll ask for what you like and have what you like." Browne
makes suitable acknowledgments. He is in a state of heat,
and is anxious to discover, if he can do so without putting a
direct question, whether his suspicions as to Mr. Dale's being
a Radical and a Dissenter are well founded.

He finds that they are. Mr. Dale is not ashamed of his
religion or of his political principles ; it does not occur to him
that he has anything to be ashamed of, and he makes no at-
tempt to soften them for the benefit of Browne, not perceiv-

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294 Exton Manor

ing the advisability of doing so. " We shall go to church, as
a rule," he says, " because there doesn't seem to be a Cause
here as yet. When I get to know my way about a bit, I dare
say I shall find some people who agree with me, and we'll
build a chapel. I expect I shall have to find most of the
money, but I shan't mind that. I dare say your people will
give me a site, Mr. — er — Browne, eh ? " Browne does not
think that they will. He thinks it would be a pity to draw
the people away from the Church and make divisions, and he
hopes Mr. Dale will think better of it. Mr. Dale says that
where he comes from, one man is as good as another, what-
ever place of worship he attends, and he hopes it will be so
here. Browne says it is so, but doesn't mean it.

As for his Radicalism, Mr. Dale makes no disguise of it.
He asks all sorts of questions about the Liberal Association,
which Browne finds it difficult to answer, never having heard
of that body since he has been at Exton. Mr. Dale is afraid
that Liberalism must be in a bad way in this neighbourhood,
and proposes to do what he can to better its way. Browne
says they have always been good Conservatives in Exton,
and Mr. Coventry, their member, is a good sportsman and a
capital good chap besides, and it would be a thousand pities
to turn him out. Mr. Dale asks whether he is an active
politician, and Browne is obliged to confess that he is not, as
he doesn't care about it, goes to the House of Commons as
seldom as possible, and never opens his mouth when he gets
there. Mr. Dale asks whether Browne thinks that is the
sort of man who ought to represent a constituency, and
Browne, says he does. Mr. Dale disagrees with him, says
they must put up somebody to fight Mr. Coventry, and inti-
mates that he is ready to be put up himself if nobody better
can be found. However, political differences needn't make
people any the less good friends, and again, this is Liberty
Hall, and Browne will be welcome whenever he likes to come.
Mr. Dale returns to his picture-hanging, and Browne takes
his departure groaning and perspiring.

Mr. and Mrs. Ferraby bring their Whitsuntide party down
to Forest Lodge in a specially reserved saloon carriage, and tran-
sport them from the station in motor-cars already sent down by
road. Their guests number about half-a-dozen, and each of
them has been warned that their entertainment will take the



Arrivals 295

form of a picnic, as Forest Lodge is a poky little place, merely a
rough shooting-box. The picnic, however, does not involve anv
serious discomfort to the picnickers. Their rdoms are furnished
luxuriously. Their bodily wants are attended to by a French
chef and three or four men-servants. There are motor-cars in
which they can be taken in any direction they wish to go, and
there is a steam yacht anchored in the river just below Warren's
Hard, and a racing cutter for those who prefer to be blown by
the winds of heaven rather than propelled by steam, lying off
Harben Pier, six miles away. So that on the whole the draw-
backs of ordinary picnics have been successfully surmounted.
Mr. and Mrs. Ferraby are both comparatively young. Mr.
Ferraby, despite his comparative youth, is a power in
financial circles in the City. He is considered sound as well
as enterprising. He may be seen driving along the Thames
Embankment in an electric brougham at about ten o'clock on
most mornings during the London season, studjdng a pink
paper, and returning at about seven reading a green one. He
may also be seen at most places of resort frequented by the
smartest of smart people, during the night, for both Mr. and
Mrs. Ferraby are popular members of that class of society
which is preached against in pulpits and lectured against in
newspapers, and whose names and movements are made
familiar to the world by the same papers which lecture them.
How Mr. Ferraby succeeds in keeping, and even enhancing,
his reputation as a sound financier, and making a regular ap-
pearance at Ascot, and Goodwood, and Cowes, and other
places where the more leisured of his acquaintances disport
themselves, as well as an occasional appearance on the Riviera,
or at Biarritz, or at a foreign Spa, staying at country houses
in England and Scotland and Ireland in the Autumn, and
shooting over the preserves he has rented at Exton, must be
decided by the initiated, but he undoubtedly does so, and
makes a great deal of money besides. As he does not give
up the whole of his life to amusing himself, and Mrs. Ferraby,
in the intervals of flying about from one place to another,
dressing herself and playing Bridge, manages to dispose of
some of her husband's superfluous income, and, what is more
to the point, some of her own crowded hours, in the service
of public charities ; and as both of them are always cheerful
and friendly, and are much given to hospitality, not entirely
of the kind that expects some return, perhaps they are not

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296 Exton Manor

among the worst members of their much decried and much
advertised set.

They arrive at Forest Lodge in time to dress for a conveni-
ently late dinner, and the houseis immediately filled with noise
and laughter, which sinks again into temporary silence as each
member of the party retires into his or her separate chamber.
The guests with one exception are as smart as host and
hostess. There is Prince Alexis Orvinski, who is very much
at home in English society, and prefers England to Russia,
where he is liable to receive attentions of an explosive char-
acter. There is the Earl of Bridgwater, supporting the separa-
tion from his Countess, who has gone to stay at another house
farther down the line, with exemplary fortitude. She travelled
down by the same train as he, although neither of them knew
it till the fast train was moving out of Greathampton Station,
when she put her hand out of the window and waved him a
greeting. There is Lady Buttermere, also temporarily
separated from her husband, he being in Paris, and also sup-
porting the separation with resignation. There is Mrs. Lanc-
ing, who has got rid of her husband altogether, through the
agency of a judge and jury, and has so far resisted the temp-
tation to acquire another. Both these ladies have attained the
rank of beauties, with the help of the illustrated papers, in
which their photographs are constantly appearing for the bene-
fit of those who would otherwise be in the painful position of
constantly reading about them without knowing what they are
like. There is Major Laurence Syde, of His Majesty's Bri-
gade of Guards, the cousin of Lord Wrotham's who has al-
ready been mentioned, a very handsome man, whose good
looks and agreeable manners are generally supposed to be de-
voted to the capturing of a prize in the matrimonial market.
If they are they have not yet been successful, possibly because



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