Kitty came into the studio and, dropping on to a stool, said, as she drew
the pins from her hat:
"Dad, I've had an adventure."
She made the assertion with seeming gravity, but her father glanced
at her dancing eyes with a mixture of interest and a suspicion of being
spoofed; for past experiences of his light-hearted, mischief-loving
daughter had taught him to be wary; so he said nothing, but continued
to chalk in the rough sketch on the easel.
"Behold in me a heroine of romance!" said Kitty, striking an
attitude and regarding the toes of her dainty boots with her head on one
side; and her father, as he glanced at her again, noted vaguely her pose
and expression for future use; for Kitty served frequently as a model,
and her pretty face and svelte figure had appeared in numerous
magazines as the heroine of all sorts of stories.
"Father, I have saved a fellow creature's life," she went on. "Told
in the language of popular fiction it would run thus: 'A young girl of
pleasing appearance was seen going down one of our leading thoroughfares.
She was of meek and modest demeanour——'"
"I thought you said the adventure happened to you, Kitty," said
"'The road was crowded with the carriages and motor-cars of
the wealthy and noble,'" continued Kitty, disregarding the mild
sarcasm; "'the young girl, lost "in maiden meditation, fancy-free," was
startled suddenly by a cry of anguished terror. Raising her downcast
eyes, she saw a pretty young thing running across the road right in
front of an approaching motor-car, from the occupant of which, a
lady of mature age and buxom form, the cry had arisen. Without
a thought of her own fair young life, the maiden rushed forward, seized
the young thing in her arms and carried it in safety to the pavement.
The magnificent 2,000-h.p. motor-car pulled up beside her, and the richly
dressed lady, with a gasp of relief and admiration, expressed her appreciation
of the young girl's heroism, demanded her name and address, and,
handing her a card, desired the rescuer to call. The heroine, murmuring
something inaudible, blushed sweetly and, making her way through
the small but loudly cheering crowd which had collected, modestly
"All very well," grumbled Mr. Thorold; "but you'll be brought
home on a stretcher some day, Kit. You're too venturesome by far.
What became of the child?"
"Oh, it wasn't a child; it was a collie pup."
"I thought you said 'fellow-creature,'" remarked her father
"All dogs are my fellow-creatures," declared Kitty simply.
"I am a credulous as well as a sinfully indulgent parent," said
Mr. Thorold, stepping back to view his sketch; "but I don't believe
a word of your story."
"'Documentary evidence was instantly forthcoming,'" retorted
Kitty, extending a tiny paw with a card inserted delicately between her
Her father took it, read aloud: "Lady Hawborough, 209, Belgrave
Square," and then emitted a low whistle.
"My word, Kitty, you've gone and done it!" he said. "If this is
the Lady Hawborough—and Nature, with all her audacity, cannot have
made two of them—you've run up against a celebrity of the deepest
"Oh?" said Kitty. "Never heard of her. What's she celebrated
"For good works—which means, in most cases, a disposition and a
capacity for interfering in the affairs of other people. And her ladyship
is one of the biggest and most incorrigible interferers in this crank of a
world of ours. She is immensely rich; she is also 'powerful,' as the
novelists say; she is a tyrant to her relations, a terror to her friends,
and a well-meaning, charitable bugbear to the world in general."
"Oh!" said Kitty, somewhat dismayed. "But how is it you are
so intimately acquainted with the history and characteristics of this lady
of lofty rank and goodly oof?"
"My dear Kitty, 'oof' is not nearly such a good word as 'wealth.'"
"Maybe, but it's easier to pronounce," retorted Kitty.
"Oh, I don't know," said Mr. Thorold, as if he were weary of the
subject. "Heard some one at the Club talking about her; seen her
name in the papers. Take my advice and don't call. She'll enlist you
in one of her gangs of workers, hustle you into a hospital as a nurse,
make you into a district visitor, or turn you a lecturer on vegetarianism
or some other fad."
"Oh no, she won't," said Kitty, with sublime confidence; "not that
I should object to being a nurse—that is, if I hadn't already to look
after an aged and infirm parent. Yes; much as I value your advice,
Dad, I think I'll call. I'll go to-morrow; and if I come back, say, in a
Salvation Army kit, and banging a tambourine—and, mind you! I
might do worse: I've a whole-hearted admiration for the S.A. and the
uniform is distinctly fetching—you can indulge in the exquisite pleasure
of exclaiming, 'I told you so!' What are you on this morning, Dad?"
she asked, going to him, putting her arm round his neck, and giving
him a little hug.
"Sketch for an illustration for the Long Acre Magazine," he said,
with a kind of resignation; for your most gifted artist has to do
pot-boilers nowadays: and generally he does them well.
"The girl's all right, anyhow," said Kitty. "Where's the man?"
"Oh, I'm going to stick him in directly," said Mr. Thorold.
"He's to be a soldier, and I've got a young fellow coming as a model
presently. Ran against him in a rather extraordinary way. He called
on me yesterday with an introduction from Bloxham: said he had never
sat as model before; but that he was hard up, and would do his best.
Fine young fellow, and a nice taking sort of chap altogether."
"Burglar in disguise, coming to inspect the premises, no doubt,"
surmised Kitty cheerfully.
"Well, he's welcome to anything he takes a fancy to," remarked
"Oh, well!" she said. "I'm off to consult Selinar-Ann as to
whether it's to be bread-and-butter pudding or a baked roly-poly;
expect me back, or what remains of me, in an hour."
Carefully rumpling her father's already disordered hair, she screwed
up his patient face between her hands, kissed him and ran out, singing
as she went.
In less than an hour she re-entered the studio, still singing; but
the song snapped off suddenly, and she stood just within the doorway,
staring with wide-open eyes at a young soldier in khaki who stood
on the model's dais, one arm in a sling, the other extended with
a sword in the hand, in the kind of attitude beloved by the populace,
and forming the picture which bears inevitably the legend, "Charge!"
The young man turned his eyes—he dared not move anything
else—and, at sight of the stricken maiden, his tanned face grew the
colour of a healthy beetroot.
"Getting on famously, Kit," remarked Mr. Thorold in a preoccupied
manner. "Arm a little higher, if you please, Captain——Pardon,
didn't catch your name."
"Barnard," said the model, in a small voice quite inconsistent with
his fine and manly proportions.
"Ah, thank you! Could you—er—put on something of a scowl?
You're wounded, you know, and you're leading a forlorn hope, or
something of the sort."
The young man's good-looking face assumed as much of a scowl
as it was capable of doing, and Mr. Thorold dashed it on the paper.
"Capital! Now you can rest a minute. I've got to go and get
some more ochre. Perhaps you'd like a drink?"
"Thank you; I should," confessed the young man, with a slight
"All right; I'll bring it," said Mr. Thorold; and, as he was
leaving the room, he said over his shoulder, "My daughter; Captain
Kitty closed the door carefully; then, seating herself on the divan,
she rested her chin in her hand and, regarding the young man severely,
she demanded sternly:
"Perhaps you'll be kind enough to inform me of the—the meaning
He had seated himself on the edge of the dais and was wiping his
face, as if he were just going through a dangerous action, with the
enemy pressing on all sides.
"I beg your pardon?" he faltered, with meekness in his voice, mien,
"I asked you why you are masquerading here?" she said, uncompromisingly.
"Well, come to that, I'm not masquerading. This is my own kit;
I'm a soldier, as you know. This is a genuine wound, not a fake; and
I'm really hard up: had a run of bad luck lately. No harm in earning
an honest shilling."
"But why come to my father, this particular studio, to earn it?"
demanded Kitty, cutting short his feeble attempts at plausible
"Oh, well," he replied desperately: "you see, when I met you at
the Thomsons' the other night, and asked you if I might have the
honour of calling on you, you said that your father was a very busy man
and that you yourself had no time for receiving visitors."
"Well?" demanded Kitty, as icily as before.
"Well," he resumed, looking down and then up at her, as if he
could not keep his eyes from her face, stern and almost ferocious as it
was, "well, I asked the Thomsons who your father was, and when they
told me, I thought—I thought——Well, don't you know, it seemed
to me that he might want a model. War pictures are all the go now,
aren't they? And so——" He broke down, made a little gesture with
his unwounded arm, and blurted out, "Of course you know why I've
come. I wanted to see you again. I told you so the other night; like
my cheek, of course, but—I don't know how it is—I feel as if I'd got to
see you, to know you. Look here, Miss Kitty—I beg your pardon, all
the Thomsons call you that—I hope you won't mind my saying that
I've fallen in love with you?"
"Excuse me; I mind it very much," Kitty informed him with
distressing promptitude; but her eyes wavered and the colour came
into her face and made it, in the unfortunate young man's opinion,
more maddeningly fascinating than ever.
"Oh, well, I'm sorry," he said, but without much penitence in his
tone; "but the truth should always be told, shouldn't it? And it is
"Is it?" queried Kitty. "You've seen me only once before, and
then only for an hour or two."
"Two hours and three-quarters," he said, as if he were a stickler
for accuracy; "and I fell in love with you after the first quarter of an
hour. That being the case—as it certainly is—what was I to do?
I shall have to go back to the regiment as soon as this old arm of mine
is right; and it's getting right quickly; and I felt that I couldn't go
without at any rate telling you what—what was the matter with me."
"You speak as if—as if love were a disease," said Kitty, with an
attempt at mockery which was an abject failure.
"So it is," he declared, "and I've got it bad—very bad indeed.
I'll ask you to believe me, Miss Kitty—I mean Miss Thorold—that I
haven't had you out of my mind for one moment since we parted."
"It's a pity you haven't something better to think of," said Kitty.
"There I disagree with you," observed the young man stoutly.
"I couldn't have anything better to think of, and I don't want to.
I shall think of you for the rest of my natural life. One moment,
Miss Kitty, before you refuse me. I ought to tell you that I'm a poor
young captain, in a marching regiment, with no prospects."
"The allurement is irresistible——" began Kitty, with admirable
"I'm delighted to hear it," he said. "So you accept me?"
"The politeness of a soldier should have compelled you to hear
me out. I was going to add, that it would be irresistible if I were in
love with you; but——"
"Don't go on, I beg of you!" he implored. "I'm not such a fat-headed
idiot as to suppose that you are in love with me. What I
wanted to ask you was to give me a show. You see, I've arranged with
Mr. Thorold to stand, not only for this picture, but for an oil-painting,
which I suppose—don't know much about art—will take some time."
"You have? Well, of all the——!"
"Quite so," he said meekly. "You see, it will give me a chance
of trying to explain to you that, if you refuse me, it will be—oh, worse
than a conical bullet in a particularly vital spot. All I ask is that you
will look in now and again, and—and give me an opportunity of—of——"
"Bothering me to death," finished Kitty for him.
"No; bothering you into an engagement—which is sometimes
a serious affair, but not always fatal," he said frankly. "Come, Miss
Kitty, don't be hard on me! It's not much to ask——"
"Oh, isn't it?" interjected Kitty with fine irony. "Thank you.
"If you were in love with me—absurd idea, of course! but I'm
just putting the case—I'd come and sit with you and give you any
amount of chances."
Kitty heard her father's returning footsteps, and she stood up
and looked from side to side, and then at this meekly audacious young
man, with a mixture of astonishment and bewilderment—and something
else I cannot define—in her really wonderful eyes.
"Well, of all the cool——" she said again. But he cut her short.
"That's all right," he said breathlessly; "thank you ever so
much. Your father's coming. I'm to be here at eleven o'clock every
"And you think," said Kitty, as hurriedly, "that, by simply
sitting here and regarding you in that absurd attitude, I shall fall
"Oh, no; not at all. Fortune will have pity on me and give
me an opportunity for seeing you for a minute or two alone. Besides,
perhaps—I only say perhaps, mind!—you might be induced to lunch
at an A.B.C. shop," he jerked out in a rapid whisper, as the innocent
parent returned with his yellow ochre.
Kitty went up to her room, flung herself into a chair in her
favourite attitude, with her chin in her hands, and stared at nothing—no,
not nothing, but at the handsome face and manly form of a wounded
Of course, she would not go near the studio while he was there.
Consequently, the next morning, at half-past eleven, she entered with
refreshment on a tray; and, with downcast eyes and a blush, informed
her father that she had left his soda-and-milk in the dining-room
because a change of scene and air would be good for him.
She was still rosy with shame when the model sprang from the
dais, caught her hand, and declared fervently that she was an angel.
"No, I am a sly and deceitful, not to say forward, girl," said Kitty.
"But I've only made an opportunity to tell you that I'm not coming
into the studio again while you're here."
"That's all right," he responded cheerfully. "Come in just about
this time. And I've found a jolly little A.B.C. shop where we can get
some lunch to-day: second turning to the right, in the corner—I should
like you to be able to tell me, quite quietly, why you find it necessary
to refuse me. I think that's only fair to you."
"And I think," said Kitty emphatically, "that you possess the
concentrated cheek—I am sorry there is no stronger word—of the whole
British Army; and I decline your invitation."
She kept him waiting at the A.B.C. shop for a good quarter of
* * * * * * *
In the afternoon Kitty presented herself at 209, Belgrave Square,
and was shown into what a house-agent would call "the magnificent and
spacious salon." Lady Hawborough was seated in a capacious chair,
knitting for dear life; on a small table beside her was an orderly
disorder of blue books, reports of charitable societies, vegetarian tracts,
and the debris of her morning's correspondence. She received Kitty
with more than graciousness; for her ladyship, notwithstanding her
crankiness, was the owner of that organ the possession of which we are
led to believe atones for all minor faults, not to say crimes—a
Besides, she had been immensely taken with Kitty, and admired
genuinely the pluck and readiness which the girl had displayed in the
rescue of the puppy: of course, Lady Hawborough was a prominent
member of the S.P.C.A.
She gave Kitty some tea, patted her hand several times, and
proceeded to put her through a kindly, but searching, catechism; and,
before tea was over, had obtained sufficient information respecting
Kitty's life to convince her that the girl was a fitting object of her
ladyship's benevolence. It is true that, every now and then, Kitty
caught a glimpse of the somewhat masterful spirit which her ladyship
displayed in her favourite occupation of ordering the lives of all who
came in contact with her; but Kitty was not so stupid as to fail to
recognise the presence of the aforesaid good heart, or not to credit the
old lady with the amiable intention which smiled behind the mask of
"She's not at all a bad sort," Kitty informed her father on her
return home. "Oh, I daresay she's fond of interfering and all that;
but she can't interfere with me; I'm not her relation—I was going to
say 'Thank goodness,' but I really do like her, Dad. She's coming to
see some of your pictures some day."
"Oh, my great aunt!" groaned Mr. Thorold, who, like a true
artist, had a loathing for the necessary, but sometimes maddening, art
The drawing for the Long Acre Magazine being duly finished,
Mr. Thorold began on the more important battle-piece.
"I think I'm going to make a hit with this, Kitty," he said to his
daughter one morning, as he was preparing for the arrival of his admirably
punctual and singularly patient model. "You see, I've got a splendid
young chap to stand for it. He's the real thing, instead of a coster
dressed up in an officer's uniform. And he's a pleasant chap, too," he
continued meditatively. "A modest, well-mannered young fellow: no
swank or swagger; in fact, a gentleman. By the way, Kitty, you
might remember that little fact, and not be quite so short and sharp
with him when he speaks to you."
"Oh, it won't hurt him," retorted Kitty, turning her back quickly.
"From what I have seen of him, I should say that Captain Barnard
would not be easily snubbed."
"And you try pretty hard," remarked her father. "For instance,
yesterday there was no occasion for you to tell him to shut up when he
observed that it was a fine day."
"All I said was that a model was much more effective when he
kept his mouth closed," said Kitty.
"That strikes me as being pretty much the same thing," said her
father. "He looked quite crushed."
"Do him good," murmured Kitty. "Besides, he can talk the hind
leg off an army mule when he likes."
"How do you know?" asked her parent, with mild surprise.
"Oh, I'm only drawing inferences from—from his general appearance,"
said Kitty, looking a trifle confused.
"Going out to lunch again to-day?" demanded her father, repiningly,
as, clad in outdoor things, she passed him in the passage a
couple of hours later.
"Sorry, dear; got a pressing engagement. Besides, you never eat
anything. There! did it miss its nurse? Never mind! I'll be in all
the evening." She scrunched up his face, gave him what she called her
"screw" kiss, and departed to the A.B.C. shop.
By this time, it must be confessed, the fortress besieged by Captain
Barnard with such ingenuous strategy, but manly courage, had surrendered;
and to-day the wounded soldier had brought a pretty but
inexpensive ring with him.
"It's all I can afford, dearest," he said, as he slipped it on the
"It's a perfect duck," she returned, touching the ring with her
lips—a wicked and maddening thing to do; for you can't kiss a girl in
an A.B.C. shop, however much in love with her you may be.
"And to-morrow I'll tell your father. What—what do you think
he'll say, darling?"
"I know what he'll say, but I couldn't repeat it, because I've been
properly brought up," replied Kitty.
"But he won't refuse his consent, won't chuck me out?" cried her
"No; because, strange as it may seem, he's really fond of me. Oh,
I don't deserve it; for he's the dearest dad that ever had a hussy and a
minx for a daughter. No, he won't throw you out, at any rate until
the picture's finished. And perhaps you'll be tired of me—I mean,
I shall be tired of you—we shall be tired of each other, before that
"I'll risk that," he said confidently, pressing her hand under the table.
That afternoon Kitty, in a state of perfect bliss, paid one of her
frequent visits to Lady Hawborough, with whom she had now become
great friends; in fact, the old lady had grown quite fond of the girl;
and the extent of this affection was proved that afternoon to Kitty by
an extraordinary mischance. The footman had shown her into a small
ante-room, which Lady Hawborough called her "study"; the adjoining
apartment was divided from that in which Kitty was waiting by a pair
of folding doors, and, one of these being partly open, Kitty heard the
rustling of dresses, followed by Lady Hawborough's clear and very
distinct voice saying:
"Must you go, dear? I'm so sorry, because I wanted you to see
her. She's quite a nice girl—in fact, a really sweet little soul. Oh,
yes, of course, I've plans for her," she continued, as if in response to a
remark by the other lady. "I'm afraid she has not many opportunities;
the father is a struggling artist and they don't move in society, of
course. I'm thinking of—in fact, I've made up my mind to marry her
"Lucky Archibald!" observed the other lady.
"Yes; I think he will be," assented Lady Hawborough, with a
complacency she always exhibited when disposing of the fate of those
belonging to her. "He is a good boy, a little wild, perhaps, but really
no harm in him; and it's time he was married. I'm a little anxious
about him, because he's so—so impetuous, like all the Hawboroughs."
Her ladyship's "dearest friend" could not have accused her of impetuosity;
and Kitty could almost see the other lady smile. "He is the
sort of boy who might fall in love with a barmaid or a ballet girl and
"Then this young lady doesn't come within the category of
"Oh, dear, no," said Lady Hawborough. "She's quite a lady and
will suit Archibald very nicely. I am very pleased with him; he has
been doing so well lately: quite distinguished himself; you've heard, of
course? It was in the papers. I am going to look after him."
Kitty had been listening with burning face and twitching lips. She
had been so astonished as to be incapable of carrying out her desire to
spring to the door and declare her presence, and escape from the position
of an eavesdropper; but she recovered sufficiently to rise and confront
Lady Hawborough as, on having said farewell to her visitor, she entered
"Why, my dear!" said her ladyship, almost embarrassed, "I
didn't know that you were here: have you been waiting long?"
"Long enough to hear what you said," replied Kitty bluntly, her
face pale now, her eyes flashing. "I couldn't help listening. I'm sorry.
Yet it's just as well, because, Lady Hawborough, I don't think you
have any right to—to dispose of me in the way you intended doing.—I
don't know who 'Archibald' is."
"Archibald is my nephew," said Lady Hawborough stiffly; and
when Lady Hawborough was stiff, the common or kitchen poker
compared with her was a soft and flexible article. "My nephew and
heir. He is a very good and brave young man."
"He may be a saint for all I care," said Kitty; "but I don't want
to marry him, and I won't. In fact, I'm——" She was going to say
"engaged," but she was really too angry to confide in Lady Hawborough
"—I'm resolved not to do so. I am afraid you will think me very
ungrateful, and that—well, that this is the end of our friendship."
"I think you are stating the situation very accurately," said Lady
Hawborough, whose face was exceeding red.
"I'm sorry," said Kitty, rather wistfully and sadly, her resentment
waning; for the old lady had been very kind to her, and Kitty saw that
even this absurd intention of hers sprang from a benevolent desire
to benefit her protégée. "I want to thank you for all your goodness
to me, and——Good-bye, Lady Hawborough."
She held out her hand, but Lady Hawborough appeared not to see
it, and Kitty got outside the "stately and desirable mansion" and
hastened home to enjoy a good cry.
When she made her appearance in the studio next morning, she
found her father seated on his stool in an attitude of profound dismay,
his long figure bowed, his rumpled hair clutched in his hands, his
painting-brush between his teeth.
On the dais stood the wounded soldier, his face flushed, an expression
of keen discomfort all over him.
"Here, look here, Kitty!" wailed her distracted parent. "Just
listen to what this young man's been telling me? He says that you
and he have got engaged! Heavens!"
"Quite true, father," said Kitty calmly, but with a blush.
"Oh, my goodness! And he tells me that he's poor, and has
nothing to live on excepting his pay and a small allowance."
"That's true also, I believe, father," said Kitty. "I'm sorry;
but it can't be helped. You'll have to paint me as 'The Mendicant's
"Don't joke about it, you foolish, abandoned girl!" groaned Mr.
"But you don't want me to cry about it, Dad dear," said Kitty,
going to him, taking the brush from between his teeth, and putting her
arm round his neck. "Haven't you got anything to say for yourself?"
she asked, addressing the discomfited young man.
"Not a word," he returned. "Said all I've got to say. And look
at the effect of it!"
"Yes," she retorted. "You've broken the heart of an affectionate
and devoted parent. You're a wicked young man.—Oh, dad dear,
do get up and go on with your work! You know as well as I do that
you're not going to make us unhappy? Say, 'Bless you, my children!'
like a good father, and let's all go up and mingle our tears over a lunch
at the Floriani."
"Ripping idea!" cried the infatuated lover, who would have said
the same if Kitty had proposed they should lunch in the moon.
"Oh, well," said Mr. Thorold, a trifle more cheerfully, and with a
shrug of resignation. "But I shall not go unavenged. Young man,
you do not know what lies before you. She will make a slave of you,
as she has made a slave of me; this girl is a tyrant of the most outrageous
kind. You will not possess a soul of your own; you will——"
"Bravo, Dad!" interrupted Kitty. "But it will be quite time
enough to give me away when we get to the church. There's your
hat, on the bust there."
"And now we'll go on the bust ourselves," said the young man
joyously. "I say, how jolly it all is! Would you mind my kissing
He was in the middle of the somewhat lengthy act, when the
door opened, and Selinar-Ann announced in awe-stricken tones:
"Lidy 'Awborough!" And her ladyship swept in.
With his arm still round Kitty, her lover stared at the portly
dame as if she were a gorgon. Kitty, with a stifled exclamation of
astonishment, freed herself with difficulty from the young man's grasp,
and, with blushing face, hastened to greet the august visitor, whom
Mr. Thorold was regarding with an air of patient resignation.
But Lady Hawborough put out one hand to keep Kitty back,
and, fixing her lover with a stony stare, exclaimed sepulchrally:
There was a profound silence for a moment; then Kitty, staring
in her turn at her lover, echoed the objectionable word; for it was a
name she detested.
"Archibald! His name's Harry!"
"His name is Archibald," said Lady Hawborough sternly. "I
ought to know; for he is my nephew."
"Your nephew!" gasped Kitty.
The young man, having recovered from a fright which no shrapnel
built by Krupp could have caused him, now came forward with hand
"How are you, Aunt?—yes, it's my aunt, right enough. Didn't I
tell you? Must have forgotten to mention it: ought to be ashamed of
myself, for Aunt Philippa's been awfully good to me. Aunt, this young
"I know quite well enough who she is, Archibald," broke in Lady
Hawborough severely. "What I want to know is—What does this
"Oh, I see!" he stammered. "Oh, well, it means—of course, you
saw when you came in? It means that Kitty here—Miss Thorold,
allow me to introduce you to my aunt. Mr. Thorold, my aunt, Lady
Hawborough. Aunt Philippa, Mr. Thorold: he is the father of this
young lady, Kitty here, who has done me the very great honour of
promising to marry me. Sounds impossible; but it's true!"
Lady Hawborough stalked to the nearest chair and, with stately
dignity seated herself on it, very much as a judge might take his place
on the dreadful bench.
"Girl," she said, in her deepest tones, "why have you tricked,
Then, suddenly, as if influenced by a peculiar expression in Kitty's
eyes, an expression which conveyed a kind of warning, her ladyship
faltered, opened her lips once or twice, then said, in quite a different
tone, indeed, almost meekly:
"This—this is quite a surprise. You will forgive me if I am a little
upset. I think I ought to have been prepared. However, as you young
people have taken the matter into your own hands——"
"Just what we have done, haven't we, Kitty?" exclaimed her
lover, as if he were proclaiming the supernal wisdom of his relative.
"—there is no more to be said," concluded Lady Hawborough
rather lamely. "At least, I should like to have a word or two with
Miss—Miss Thorold—I mean, Kitty——"
"Outside, Eliza!" cried Harry, otherwise Archibald, joyously, as,
catching the bewildered Mr. Thorold by the arm, he walked, almost
danced, him out.
Kitty did not wait for any question.
"You see," she said, explaining the significance of her warning
look, "it was just as well not to tell these foolish men everything.
It might happen that if Harry—I mean Archibald—knew that you
had meant to insist upon his marrying me—well, men get huffy so
quickly, don't they?—he might refuse to do so now."
"Well, he might, but I don't think it's very likely, my dear," said
Lady Hawborough; and she patted the little hand that lay on her
knee. "But I think you are right. We will not say anything about—yesterday.
You're a clever little thing," she added, kissing her.
"Can we come in?" demanded Harry, a few minutes later.
"Aunt, we're all going up to the Floriani to get some lunch. Come
with us, like a good soul!"
"The—Flo—Floriani! What is it?" asked her ladyship fearsomely.
"It's a restaurant in Soho, where you get a thorough blow-out—I
mean a Continental lunch—for one-and-nine," her nephew informed
her. "Come on, Aunt Philippa!"
Lady Hawborough shuddered. "I should be delighted, Archibald
dear, but—but I think you'd better all go round to Belgrave Square with
me. It—it would be safer."
It was after lunch, when the two young and silly lovers were in
the very ante-room where Kitty had overheard Lady Hawborough's fell
designs, that Kitty, holding his head back from her for a moment, asked:
"But why does she call you Archibald?"
"Because it's my name, or one of 'em," he replied. "Harry
Archibald Stephen Fitzwilliam——"
"Oh, stop, stop! I shall feel as if I were marrying half a dozen
men. But you haven't told me why she calls you Archibald; and has
thus caused all this confusion!"
"Oh, because a lawyer chap who bolted
with a lot of her money was called
Henry; and, moreover, a bishop we've
got in the family, and a chap my aunt's very
proud of, is called Archibald."
"She'll have to drop that name,
Harry," said Kitty firmly. "I can't
it. Do you think she will?"
"I'm perfectly certain she will, if
you've made up your mind she shall," he returned,
with an air of profound conviction;
"for it's plain to me you've captured the
aunt as well as the nephew. Yes, it's a
fair cop." "She's a dear," murmured
Kitty, very close to his ear.