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covered that she is a peculiarly spiteful woman and is only too
glad to have an excuse to persecute this poor lady. For I
own, Henrietta, that I am very sorry for her and for what has
happened."

At all events, you are not to blame, Sarah. And you
could very easily make amends to her if you wished to do so.
I am strongly in favour of a quiet life all round myself ; I
have had too much experience of the other kind of life. And
I do recommend you, if you can do so conveniently, to take
steps."

" My dear Henrietta, I should have done so long ago. But
the fact is that the girl, Mrs. Redcliffe's daughter, is not what
her mother seems to be. She has been violent about it all
through. That I could forgive, as, of course, she would take
her mother's part, and I had actually overlooked her saying
something abominably rude about me which came to my ears,
and was prepared to go and call on Mrs. Redcliffe, when I ac-
cidentally overheard her repeating her offence in a way that I
could not possibly overlook, and actually while she was being
told that I intended to go out of my way to call on her mother,
who had not called on me, and try to put matters on a better
footing. It was the extreme of ungraciousness, and, as I say,



Lady Syde hears and advises 321

it is quite impossible to overlook it. And there it is. These
people are living in my very garden, as you might say, for it is
only just across the park, and I have the unpleasantness of
meeting them about the place, and might at any time meet
them in some one else's house, and have them turning up their
noses at me. At least the mother would behave properly — I
have nothing against her at all, except that she might bring the
girl to book and make her apologize to me for her behaviour —
but the girl actually does turn up her nose at me when I pass
her, and in the most offensive way. At least, she looks me
straight in the face, and has not the manners even to pass me
without notice/'

" Of course that must be highly unpleasant, and you ought
not to be subjected to it. You were not to blame in the first

place, and besides Well, Sarah, I think those people

ought to go/'

"It has annoyed me more than I can tell you. And it is
-''hot only the Redcliffes themselves. Mrs. Redcliffe has ap-
parently gained the esteem of everybody living here. I have
not the slightest wish to be unfair to her, and from what has
been told me I will go so far as to say that I have no doubt
she deserves it. But it is a little too much when all her
friends living in and about the village should visit the annoy-
ance caused to her by Mrs. Prentice on me."

" But surely they have not done that ? "

" Unfortunately it is so. Mrs. Redcliffe is apparently such
a general favourite that her friends are unable to show their
appreciation of her except by — well, the word is rather a
curious one to use about myself, but that is what it comes to —
by boycotting me."

" Oh, Sarah ! but that is a gross piece of impertinence."

" I need not say that I can do very well without them.
But I was certainly prepared to treat all the better class of
people. here with consideration and — and hospitality, and it
distresses me to find that — that "

Lady Wrotham did not finish her sentence, which might
have ended, " that they can do very well without me."

" It seems the height of ingratitude," said Lady S\ T de.
" What other people are there in the place ? "

" There is a Captain Turner, a curious man, who lives a
sort of hermit's life in a house in the woods behind here and
breeds trout; Mr. Browne, the agent, brought him to see

L (8)



322 Exton Manor

me, at my request. Mrs. Prentice happened to be here at the
time and the unfortunate subject of Mrs. Redcliffe came up.
He was up in arms at once, and darted out of the house, and,
as I heard afterwards, straight up to Mrs. Redcliffe's house, to
assure her, I suppose, that he was on her side, whatever line
mischievous and q«/ite unimportant people like myself chose to
take — although, as a matter of fact, I had actually rebuked
Mrs. Prentice in his presence for letting out what I had told
her/'

" But he lives a hermit's life, Sarah, as you say ; he would
not worry you much/'

" Unfortunately the matter did not rest there. I had ar-
ranged to go up and see his house and his fish-hatching appa-
ratus, and thinking that he was perhaps rather eccentric and
not quite accountable for his actions, I wrote him a note a few
days ago and said I should like to drive up that afternoon.
He actually had the impertinence to write back that he ex-
pected Mrs. and Miss Redcliffe to tea that afternoon and that
perhaps under the circumstances I should not care to come."

" Do you think it was meant for impertinence ? You
would not have cared to meet them."

" My dear Henrietta, there was no suggestion of my going
on another day ; and I learnt through Riddell, who happened
to know, that the Redcliffes had not gone to tea there that
afternoon and had never been asked to go to tea there. It
was as good as telling me — me, Henrietta — that he did not
wish to see me."

" Oh, but that is quite unallowable, Sarah ; he must go."

" I am afraid that he has a long lease of his house. These
long leases ought not to be granted. It simply gives a person
who is not well disposed to a landowner the power of annoy-
ance, without the possibility of its being stopped. Then there
is Mrs. Patrick O'Keefe — I am telling you everything, Hen-
rietta, because it is a relief to me to do so. She is a young
widow who settled here a short time ago, after her husband
was killed in the war. He was a brother of Lord Ballyshan-
non. She was away when I first came here, and by the time
she returned this unpleasantness had reached its height. She
came to see me and I took to her at once. I thought, ' Now
at last I have someone I shall always be pleased to see/ and
I was quite cheered, for I do like to see my fellow beings oc-
casionally, Henrietta, and I like to have bright and good-look-



Lady Syde hears and advises 323

ing young people around me. I think she took to me too ; I
am sure she did, and we put our heads together, my old head
and her young head, to see if something could be done to
make up to Mrs. Redcliffe for what had happened, as I told
you. It was to her that I heard the Redcliffe girl talking so
rudely about me."

" But she did not encourage her ? "

" No, I think not. I believe not. I think she would have
tried to bring her to a better state of mind. But she told me,
that, right or wrong, she was on this girl's side, and that for
the present she — well, practically declined the honour of my
acquaintance."

" Oh, but, Sarah, that cannot be put up with for a moment.
However charming she may be, you cannot have her behaving
like that to you. I think she ought to go. Certainly, I think
she ought to go."

" She is just the sort of woman, or girl, for she is very
young, I should have chosen to be in the place. She has a
bright little house in the village. I pass it frequently, but
have never been inside it. She has pretty window curtains,
and I should think everything very nice. I heard her laugh-
ing in the garden as I drove by the other day. Perhaps she is
right to be unflinching in support of her friends when they are
in trouble, as you might say. I was annoj^ed with her at the
time, and showed it ; but I am not anno}^ed now. I think
she regretted what she considered the necessity of breaking
with me, and she did not do it in a disagreeable way at all.
Still, I see no chance of things coming right at present, and I
would rather she went somewhere else where I should not be
reminded of the pleasure I might have had by her coming in
and out here, as I hoped she would have done."

" It must be ver}^ disturbing to you, Sarah. I can quite
see that, and I am sorry it has happened. But I should think
she would see the advisability of going. What about your
agent, whom you mentioned just now ? Cannot he do some-
thing to bring the people to their senses ? "

"lam annoyed with Mr. Browne for many reasons. He
also thinks it incumbent on him to champion Mrs. Redcliffe's
part, but there are other things. I need not go into all of
them, but he has actually let the Lodge, a sort of dower
house to the Abbey, which has been empty some years, to a
North-country business man with a large family, who I hear

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324 Extern Manor

has no sort of pretensions to being a gentleman, and is indeed
a Radical and — would you believe it ? — a Dissenter ; and he
has done that since I have been here and without consulting
me about it by so much as a word."

'■' Oh, but, Sarah, that is an outrage. At any rate, there
will be no difficulty in getting rid of him. I should pack him
off to-morrow."

" The galling part of it is, Henrietta — I can say this to you
— that George has these matters entirely at his own disposal.
I have this house and gardens and so on, but I have no actual
status in the management of the property. With a dutiful
son I should not be made to feel that I am nobody in such
matters as these. My wishes would be deferred to, and in a
question that so nearly concerned my own comfort as a tenant
for the most important house in the place next to this, I
should be empowered to take my own steps. But you know
what George is — flighty and irresponsible and troublesome
since his boyhood. He was always difficult to guide, and
with his extravagance and wildness he has given us endless
trouble."

(t He is good-hearted," said Lady Syde, " and generous. I
think you were too harsh to him when he was a child. At
any rate, he is not utterly selfish and grasping — like "

" Like Laurence," said Lady Wrotham, who was not
pleased with the criticism. " No, thank heaven, he is not
like Laurence. And Laurence is what he is owing to your
spoiling him when he was a boy and giving him everything
he asked for."

Lady Syde did not accept the challenge. " It ma}/ be so,"
she said quietly. " I fear that it is partly so. But George is
not spoilt in that way. It is simply his wildness that I think-
is the outcome of your severity, and it will tone down as he
becomes older. Otherwise he is charming. Surely he will
bow to your wishes in these matters."

" He has not done so with regard to these Dales. I own
that the money is an important factor at present, and the man
is a good tenant as far as money goes. But money is not
everything. However, the mischief is done now and I must
make the best of it. Only how am I to exercise an influence
in the place if half the people insist upon quarrelling with me,
and the new people who are brought into it are such as it is
impossible for me to know ? "

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Lady Syde hears and advises 325

" You may find them quite nice people."

" I have very little hope of it. But we will see. You
and I will call at the Lodge — let us say on Monday ; they
ought to be ready to receive us by that time — and see for
ourselves. I think you will agree, Henrietta, that I am most
unfortunately situated here, although I have every desire to
be kind and charitable to those around me. Why, even the
farmers and labouring people take sides against me, some of
them, on both these questions, although others, I am afraid
not the most satisfactory, try to keep in favour with me for
what they can get. Some of the labouring men actually omit
to touch their hats when I drive past them."

" Oh, but they can be got rid of without the slightest
difficulty. I should have not the smallest compunction in
dealing with them as they deserve. Yes, Sarah, I do think
you arc badly treated, and I shall not think so well of George
as I have done if he refuses to set these things right, as
far as he can. Where is George, by the bye ? Is he at
Hurstbury ? "

" No, he is here, at present. He came yesterday, though
of course I have seen next to nothing of him. He dined at
the Ferrabys last night, and is yachting with them to-da} 7 ."

" The Ferrabys ! Those are Laurence's friends. Do the}'
live near here ? ' ;

" They rent this shooting and Forest Lodge, the house you
passed half-way between here and the station. They have
brought a large party down for Whitsuntide, and I believe
Laurence is one of the party. I hope he will not show his
face here. I have no wish to see him, now or ever. I con-
sider his influence over George is disastrous, and all the
terrible waste of money that has been going on ever since
George's boyhood I put down to him."

" You cannot say anything harsh about Laurence that I do
not endorse," said Lady Syde. " Money disappears in an
incredible way in his hands, and it was the same with his
dear father before him. Franklin was a kind husband. I
never had a harsh word from him and his manners were
perfect, but — well, you know my history Sarah. I was a rich
woman, you might say a very rich woman when I married,
and I am now poor. I have all I want, of course, but I am
poor."
* '* I hope you are not allowing Laurence to sponge on you

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326 Exton Manor

any farther. He must be responsible for a great deal of the
reduction in your income/'

'■ He has his allowance. Most young men — not that he is
very young now, but he behaves as if he were — would con-
sider a thousand a year a very handsome allowance. It seems
to go no way with him and he is always asking for money. I
have been obliged to refuse definitely to do any more for him,
or I should be reduced to beggary. And he is not in the
least grateful for what I have done. He never comes near
me now I am of no further use to him in that way."

" I suppose you will leave him your money ? "

Lady Syde did not show surprise at this very plain ques-
tion, which was of a kind these two ladies were accustomed
to put to one another. " I shall leave him twenty thousand
pounds/' she said, " and not a penny more. I have told him
that, and I dare say he has already anticipated it. The rest I
shall leave to Richard Baldock, my nephew. I did him a
great injustice when he was a boy, owing, I know now, to
Laurence's duplicity ; but he has made a career for himself,
and I am happy to think he has not suffered from my injustice
to him/'

" It was he who married Harry Ventrey's heiress, was it
not ? "

" Yes. But she was not much of an heiress. She had
Beechhurst Hall, a beautiful place in the forest, but they would
not have been able to live there if it had not been for Richard's
own success in his business. They are a charming couple, and
when I go to stay with them I see what home life, which I
have never had myself, can be. There is no struggling for
money or for place. They are contented with their beautiful
home, and their children and their work, and themselves. It
is refreshing. A happy home life, after all, is the best thing
the world has to offer."

" It is a very different kind of life, at any rate, to that led by
such people as the Ferrabys. I have moved all nry life in what
I suppose would be acknowledged to be the best society, but
really the manners and customs of the present day are to me
positively shocking. Here are these people the Ferrabys ; they
are rich, therefore they are ill-important. There are great
people, very great people, whom I need not further particularize,
who would certainly prefer to accept hospitality from people
like the Ferrabys, than from — me. They lead society now,

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Lady Syde hears and advises 327

when a generation ago they would only have been on the out-
skirts of it. Received, yes, perhaps so, for the Ferrabys are
gentle-people, though all of their set are certainly not ; but
never presuming to take a leading part. And what a change !
Look at the people the Ferrabys have in their house now.
Husbands without their wives and wives without their hus-
bands. Would that have been done a generation ago ? Cer-
tainly not, in the matter-of-course way in which it is done now.
There is that Mrs. Lancing there. A disreputable woman I
call her. She divorced her husband, but from all I hear he
might just as well have divorced her, and her next husband will
probably do so. In my younger days we should have turned
our backs on such a woman. Now we have to meet her
everywhere, unless we keep quietly to ourselves and do not go
about among the people to whom we belong. / have always
taken a stand and kept my house clear of all doubtful people,
and what has been my reward ? The people whom I had a
right to expect to come to me left off coming, because I could
not amuse them. Amuse them ! What is all this modern
folly about amusement ? In my day we thought nothing of
it. We did our duty as great people, entertained each other
with dignity and sometimes with splendour, and that was
enough. Henrietta, when I see the English aristocracy run-
ning wild after amusement as they are doing to-day, I tremble
for my order."

" Well, I don't know that it does the English aristocracy
any harm to be woken up by amusing people, who don't origi-
nally belong to it," said Lady Syde. " But I do know that
after a time a life of amusement bcomes very wearing. You
and I are beyond the age at which we are likely to care about
it, and we want to live quietly and be left alone. But what
are the Ferrabys doing down here ? They have a very fine
house in London. I thought they had a big country place
somewhere."

" Of course you would suppose so. But nowadays, it
seems quite enough to have a big house in London. Mr. Fer-
raby has the shooting here. I can't say Tlike that. He has
the right to shoot all round this very house if he wants to.
But I say nothing about that. It can't be helped at present.
And he has Forest Lodge, quite a small house, with it. It is
a good thing it is no bigger. As it is it is filled from time to
time with noisy smart people, as they call themselves, whom I

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Exton Manor



don't want about the place. I feel that it takes away from my
dignity — I can say this to you, Henrietta. Country people
have no discrimination ; they see me living a quiet life here,
and they see all sorts of well-known people going to and fro at
the Forest Lodge, and they draw absurd comparisons in their
minds."

" Well," said Lady Syde, " I think the Ferrabys ought to
have notice given them, and the house should be let to some-
body you would like to have on the place. I do think that
strongly. This is your house now, and you ought to have
everything done for your comfort that it is possible to do."

" I am glad you sympathize with .me, Henrietta. I feel that
things are not going well, and it has been a great relief to talk
them over with you. I shall have a serious conversation with
George about all the matters I have mentioned to you, and I
hope he will take some steps. Now I think we had better get
ready for our drive."

They drove out presently up the hill and across the open
heath lands. Lady Syde broke out into open protestations of
delight as they passed the White House. " That is just such
a place as I should like to settle down in," she said, " and get
rid of all the bothers and responsibilities of a big house."

" Well, if Mrs. Redcliffe goes," said Lady Wrotham, " as
I hope she will be induced to do, it will be vacant ; and I
need not sa} r , Henrietta, if you would really cai^e to live in
such a small place, what pleasure it would give me to have you
there."



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CHAPTER XXX

VISITS

Turner bicycled down to the village and up to the Ledge
on Monday afternoon to visit his new neighbours. He leaned
his bicycle up against the porch, and stooped down to take
olr his trouser clips. The front door was wide open, and
Mr. Dale, in his shirt sleeves, was superintending the placing
of a pair of cows' horns over each of the doorways. This
was the climax of the decoration of the hall, which was now
complete. He came to the door to flick off the ash from his
cigar, and saw Turner. " Now, my man," he said, with
decision, but with perfect good humour, " you just get on
your bicycle and ride off again, unless you'd like a glass of
beer, which you're welcome to, before you go. You're the
fifth we've had to-day. We're going to deal with the shops
in Exton as long as they satisfy us, and we shan't require any-
thing from outside."

No form of welcome could have given Turner greater
pleasure. His eyes glistened as he looked at Mr. Dale, stand-
ing solidly on the step in front of him.

" They're capital shops in Exton," he said. " I hope
they'll satisfy you."

" Thank you ; I hope they will. I suppose you've come
from Riverton. I don't mind your coming, you know. I
like enterprise in business. I've had to do that sort of thing
myself, or I shouldn't be where I am now. But at present I
don't want you ; when I do I'll let you know."

" Thank you," said Turner, " but I don't come from River-
ton."

" Well, I don't care where you come from, as long as you
^et back there as quickly as possible."

329



330 Exton Manor

" Very well. You won't mind my first leaving a
card on Mrs. Dale, will you ? Out of politeness, you
know."

" Eh, what ! " exclaimed Mr. Dale, now bringing his eyes,
which had been fixed affably on the trees below his house, to
bear upon Turner, and gaining from his inspection a dawning
discomfort. " Card for Mrs. Dale ? "

" Yes ; here it is. Captain Thomas Turner, The Fisheries,
Exton. If you wouldn't mind just taking it, I can get back
there as soon as possible."

Mr. Dale instinctively took the card that was held out to
him, and as he did so enlightenment burst upon him. It
brought no confusion with it, as might have been expected,
but a huge roar of laughter. " Well, that's the best thing
I've ever heard of," he said when he was able to speak.
" To think of me taking you for a touting tradesman ! " He
roared again as he led the way across the hall. " 'Pon my
word, that's the best joke," he said. " I must tell mother
that. Hi ! mother ! Come in here, Mr. — er, Captain — er.
You shall tell her yourself. And you to take it like that,
too ! I'll tell you what, Mr.— er — Captain Turner, you and
me ought to get on together. That's the sort of thing I like.
Well, you'll have a joke against me all your life. Hi !
mother ! "

Mrs. Dale arrived, and the joke was explained to • her.
She did not receive it with the same ecstasy as her husband,
but looked at him reproachfully. " Oh, father ! " she said.
" I'm sure I don't know what Captain Turner will think of
us, and how you could make the mistake passes my compre-
hension, And showing him in here, too, where everything is
in such a muddle ! "

" Lor', he don't mind that," said Mr. Dale. " Do you,
Mr. — er — Captain ? And the way he took it ! Never so
much as a smile. Ton my word, it was the very best thing."
He roared again, but came round suddenly. " What'll you
take, Captain ? A whisky and soda ? Have a cigar. Here
you are ; you won't find anything wrong with that. What'll
you take to drink, now ? "

" You offered me a glass of beer just now," said Turner ;
" I think I'll take that."

This set Mr. Dale off again. He slapped his fat thighs
with his fat hands in an ecstasy of enjoyment, and expressed



Visits 331

the utmost gratification at finding a man so after his own
heart living in the place.

Turner took his enthusiasm quietly. They were all like
that, he said, in Exton. His friend Browne was like that.
Mrs. Prentice, the Vicar's wife, was like it. If Mr. Dale
had met her at the door and taken her for a servant come
after a place, there was nobody who w r ould have enjoyed it
more. Even Lady Wrotham was like it. She might seem
a little stiff at first sight, but if you told her exactly what you
thought about things she took to you at once.

" I think you must be wrong about Mrs. Prentice, Captain
Turner," said Mrs. Dale. " She did come in to see us on
Saturday, and we did not like her."

" Like her ! " said Mr. Dale. " No, we did not like her.
We make no pretence, but we're not accustomed to be pat-
ronized by ministers' wives, and told when we ought to go
to church, and when we oughtn't to go to church. And
we don't intend to take our religion from her, nor our politics
neither. And so I told her pretty plain, and she didn't like
that. So there won't be much love lost between us and her."

" Lady Wrotham is quite different," said Turner. " She's
a strong Tory and Church woman herself, but you've only got
to tell her you're not, and she'll take to you wonderfully."

" Come now, I like that," said Mrs. Dale heartily. " I'm
very glad to hear it of her ladyship. She and us won't be
seeing much of each other, I dare say. She's in one walk



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