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CHAPTER II.

man

was

On a hot afternoon in the gent, with strength to accomearly part of last season, an plish some useful toil if the affably smiling and comfortably world had set him to any—as conditioned young

it seemed to have no thought sauntering down Piccadilly. He of doing. For this was that glanced with a slightly conde- attraction of our modern froth scending interest at all who —a rich young man. Somemet him, and downwards with where in the North—at least more emphatic approval at a dozen miles from his father's his uncreased frock - coat and country-house—was a town instraight trousers and glisten- habited by a patient, stunted, ing boots. Occasionally a wo- anæmic folk, who worked as man in a passing carriage long every day as the factory would bow to him, and he took laws would permit, and died off his hat with an elegant at forty or so, with the pleassweep, and his smile broadened, ing results that Mr Fairbrother, and an acute observer would senior, Mrs Fairbrother, their have remarked in him less son Arthur, and the frequent pleasure in seeing an acquaint- strangers within their gates, ance than in being recognised had every luxury which the himself. A hansom cab came somewhat limited Fairbrother towards him, and in it was a imagination, assisted by other girl with a white, small - fea- advice, could conceive, and that tured face and soft brown eyes, Arthur Fairbrother was about who nodded and waved her to marry Lady Betty Flair, hand to the young man, and daughter of the late and sister he stopped suddenly and took of the present Earl of Mereoff his hat with a wider sweep. worth. If the form of this anHe seemed to think that the nouncement seems snobbish to cab also would be stopped; your intelligence, I am sorry ; but it went on, and a little but I must give it in the form white-gloved hand waved again in which it appealed to the at the side-window as it passed Fairbrother mind. him.

One need not think hardly of He was not of an altogether the Fairbrothers. If the founbad type of young England, dation of their money was the this young man. Not of an cheap labour of other people, aristocratic type, to be sure, there was yet acuteness and though of one found often even invention required for the enough among nominal aristo- massive edifice; and any calcrats: he was snub-nosed and lousness involved was shared broad-faced, and his neat grey by the vast majority of their gloves and shining boots cov- fellow - creatures. We cannot ered broad hands and large all be social reformers, Mr Fairfeet. But he looked clean and brother said. Arthur Fairwholesome and not unintelli- brother spent his large allow

success

manners

one

was

ance neither viciously nor with fed ox. I don't think he underany particular vulgarity. He stands, but he listens; and I'm had passed through Harrow and past the age when one wants Cambridge with some to be sympathetic about young and popularity ; his

men's imbecilities. This were very tolerable, his intel- listens and never gives any lect sufficient for the daily trouble, and it's a comfort to round, his principles most re- see him eat, the darling!” So spectable. He lived an ath- she had taken him up, as she letic life, even in London, where phrased it, had been to stay at he rode and fenced—he fenced his father's house in Yorkshire, better than one would have and had introduced him to expected of his stolidity—with many people whom he liked to regularity; and that alone, as know. Arthur

rather we know, would have gained afraid of her. She was voluble, the world's pardon, which he and sometimes puzzled him, did not need, for a rich young and she corrected his little man's excesses. He was quite faults with great candour. honestly attracted by Lady But he was grateful to her, Betty Flair, whose small pretty actually and proverbially, and face and soft brown

eyes

had at- never failed to obey a command tracted other people who cared for his attendance. On this nothing for her connections. occasion she was just arrived

Arthur Fairbrother strolled in London, and he had not down Piccadilly, content with seen her since his engagement everything under the cheerful to Lady Betty Flair. May sun. He had fenced in “I'm extremely angry with the morning, had lunched you,” Mrs Ogilvie said. “ You largely but wholesomely, had ought to have come to me first.

seven shillings at pool I disapprove altogether. Noafterwards, and was going, I don't want to hear anything

I with a conscience more than about it: I know much more satisfied with his virtue, to about Betty Flair, and all her call on Mrs Ogilvie, a lady of kith and kin, and how it was some distinction. Mrs Ogilvie managed, and everything, than was an old lady who had seen you do. You were asked down a great deal of the world, and to Mereworth for Easter, weren't had been in her day well seen you, and strolled about on the by it. She was the aunt of cliffs, and thought you were a Cambridge chum of Fair- in love, and that it would be brother, had met him at the an admirable thing socially, chum's house, and had taken didn't you? I disapprove altoan odd pleasure in his society. gether. No, don't try to argue ; “He's a peaceful change,” she you don't know how : sit still, said. “I've adopted so many and eat a large piece of cake wild young men who've

and look cheerful while I scold to the bad : this Fairbrother you. Why couldn't you marry young man's like a large, peace- that sensible cousin of yoursful, well-trained dog or a well- Mabel, wasn't she?-that nice,

gone

won

9

a snob

comfortable creature I met in It's not too late to do that Yorkshire ? She'd make a good now.” wife for you, and you'd have “I don't want to hear

anyno quarrels or anxieties, and thing about them, thank you. grow fat together, and be nice, “Oh yes, you do; but it's restful dears. Instead of which quite right and proper to preyou must marry a girl whom tend you don't. You know, of you won't understand in the course, that Mereworth's at his least—don't tell me!—and who'll wits' end for money?" worry a stone off you every “He has not confided his week. You think of social dis- affairs to me.” tinction, and all that, I sup- “Well, I think it probable pose-that's the result of a he will before very long. I'm little knowledge. You won't told he has hardly an acre left alter your own position because outside his gardens and woodyou marry a woman of good there is a wood ? He hasn't cut family, except in the eyes of it down? I'm surprised—and people who don't know, and how he gets a shilling I don't read the Society papers.

I know, or how any of them get don't complain of your being a shilling. Do you know any

thing of the Flair history? Really, Mrs Ogilvie

Don't tell me you haven't looked “Don't interrupt : you know them out in the Peerage.” you're a snob, and it's quite “Of

I wanted to natural and desirable that

you

know should be. But

you
don't
“Of course you

did. understand. If you marry eating, you dear creature. But Mabel—it is Mabel, isn't it?— the Peerage doesn't tell you your money and my help would their characters.

They were get you all the society you all of them rakes. There was want. Mabel would feed people a Flair, the first Mereworth and smile with sheer animal or his father, in Charles II.'s content, and be immensely popu- time.

ever read lar. Whereas your Betty Flair Grammont's Memoirs'? Read will snub people she doesn't it in French, and bring me a like Mabel would like them list of the words you don't all, bless her !—and won't wel- know, and I'll translate if they're come bores, who are nine-tenths proper. Well, there's a story of the sort of people you want about that Flair in Grammont, to know; and unless she's very and another about his sister. unlike her family,_well, I won't Grammont was amused by it; go into that. You won't hit it but I think you'd regard it off with her set—and in fact, from another point of view. you're a fool, my poor Arthur. They've all been rakes; but You must have another cup of they've been such absolute fools tea and eat another large piece as well—not stupid, you know, of cake. Why didn't you come but just idiots — that people to me first?

I could have always forgave them. You told you all about the family. can't laugh at people and stone

course

Go on

Have you

was

woman

stood up.

as you

them at the same time. All He had no engagement that rakes, and all fools. Until the evening, and, feeling a little present people, who I think depressed by his old friend's are simply fools altogether.” prophecies, he went to a theatre.

“You must except those I He had dined first at his club, know.”

and dined very well, and the “Not at all. What is the piece was sentimental: before it use of your denying that the over Arthur Fairbrother last Mereworth, the one who felt full of noble emotions. died last year, was a fool ? People, he reflected, were not I knew him intimately. So is so bad as that cynical old the present boy, Bob,-an ab

had supposed them. solute fool. So is his mother. He was going to marry a Betty

wonderful

person,

and her Here Arthur Fairbrother family was rich, at least, in

beautiful historical associations. “Sit down again : you're too At the same time, he confessed impatient. I wasn't going to to himself that he had not been say anything bad of her. Eat encouraged to be a passionate a piece of sugar. You were pilgrim. Lady Betty had requite right, Arthur; but I'm not ceived his diffident caresses in quite so malicious an old woman rather a formal manner, and

think. It happens that had not returned them. That, I'm fond of Betty. She's not a no doubt, was the beautiful fool: she's wild and innocent, coldness of a young girl, of and I like the type. It's just an unawakened soul because I like her and I like thing about a soul being awake you that I'm sorry two dears had been said on the stage. who can't possibly be happy Still, it was true that the whole together should think they want affair had been very practical to marry.

I'll assume she's in and ordinary—there was a dislove with you, of course. Yes, tinct air of a bargain about it. really ; I should be very angry Arthur Fairbrother's soul longed if she wasn't. Tell her to come vaguely for the strange and the and see me, and I'll tell her all romantic. As he walked out of about your family, and why I the theatre he felt that life was don't want her to marry you. rather empty and prosaic, and But her mother is a fool. Did that he was worthy of very you ever hear of poor Herbert much better things. Mardon ?"

He went back to his club, “I think not-I never met and there he found Lord Merehim.”

worth in the smoking - room, “Well, never mind. It has who came up to him, saying, nothing to do with you—and “You're the very man I wanted nothing with your Betty either," to see.” Lord Mereworth was she added, quickly. She came a good - looking, jovial young to an end of her criticisms, and man, with bright eyes and curly soon afterwards Arthur Fair- hair, and an air of innocence brother went away.

which a little belied his reputa

some

tion. He took Fairbrother by end, you know—and drink his the arm, and led him to a far health or his

memory. Then corner, out of earshot of the -Mereworth paused for a mofew other men in the room. ment—"a fellow who used to “I was going to look you

be a great friend of ours perup to-morrow, he said ; “it's suaded us, years ago, when we about Whitsuntide. You're were still at Eton, he and I, to coming to Mereworth all right, dress up and sort of act the aren't you? That's all right. period, you know. We used to Well, you know, on the 31st try to keep to their language we have a sort of celebration, and customs, dine in the afterIt's a very private, family sort noon–I daresay it sounds very of thing; but as you're going to dull, but we used to have good be one of us, I should like you fun with it.” He paused again, to be in it. It's a sort of family having spoken the last words tradition, ever since the Res- reflectively and with a kind of toration. You know, an an- shyness, as though with thoughts cestor of ours came back to the to which club smoking-rooms place then: he'd managed to and whisky were not congenial. get the beggar who'd been “We kept that up till four given it by the Roundheads years ago, and then—we gave turned out, and he posted down it up. But this year Hugh from London two days after Sinclair—he'd been there once Charles II. came back, and or twice in old days—made me there were great rejoicings, promise to try it again ; I forand all that. You see, it was got about it when I asked you great luck his getting back the down. Will it bore you? You place. He was rather a black- could get the dress easily guard, I believe, himself—you enough, and we've got swords don't mind my boring you with and things. There's no infernal all this?” Fairbrother did not wig, you know,—that came in mind, indeed : the circum- later. Will it bore you?” stances were little satis- “ Indeed it won't,” said Fairfaction to his romance-craving brother. “It's just the sort soul. He drank some whisky- of thing I should like.” and-soda.

Mereworth looked at him “Well,” Mereworth continued, with the faintest sign of doubt, "we always keep that day, but answered cheerfully: “Then though the old chap wasn't a that's settled. I'm very glad credit. You know how little you'll join it. My mother won't customs become a tradition, and be there that day—she rather it gets to be a point of honour shirks associations, you know. to keep 'em up. It used to be Betty will

, of course, Bertha just a question of a speech after Mostyn, her great friend, you dinner-something about being know, Hugh, me, and one or united and all that, you know, two others. I think we shall and we used to look at the get some fun out of it.” old boy's portrait-it's in the The two young men left the dining-room, that one at the club together, and as they said

a

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