"That, unfortunately, is usually too well justified by the facts," she replied seriously. "But only the most idiotic and ignorant of gossips could possibly say that of you. Every one who is any one knows that the Kyneston coronet does not want re-gilding."

"Good morning, Lester," replied the Earl of Kyneston, as father and son shook hands in the old courtly fashion which, within the last half century, has gone out of vogue save among those who have ancestors whose record is a credit to their descendants. "You are looking very well and fit and there is something else. What is it?

"Nitocris Marmion is in love with some one else, and Lord Leighton is in love with me at least he said so last night at 'The Wilderness, and I don't suppose he'd have said it if he hadn't meant it and I told him to go and ask his Papa: and now I'm going to ask my Poppa and Mammy if I may be Lady Leighton soon, and, perhaps, some day Countess of Kyneston.

It now need hardly be added that the said opinion was not only entirely satisfactory, but also very sweetly expressed. The next morning there were, at least, three eventful breakfasts "partaken of," as it was once the fashion to say; one at "The Wilderness," one at the Savoy, and one at the Kyneston town house in Prince's Gate.

He was good-looking, but if his features had been absolutely plain he could never have looked commonplace, for this was Lord Lester Leighton, son of the Earl of Kyneston, and twenty generations of unblemished descent had made him the aristocrat that he was.

On the other hand, Lord Leighton, son and heir of the invalid Earl of Kyneston, was a fairly well-to-do young nobleman, good-looking, a scholar, and a good sportsman, who had done brilliantly at Cambridge, and then devoted himself to Egyptian exploration with a whole-souled ardour which had quickly won Professor Marmion's heart, and a ready consent to his "trying his luck" with his daughter to boot.