This time he secured the earl's interest. Lord Marshmoreton started. "What!" "They are just off to Paris," said George. "Reggie Byng is not married!" "Married this morning. I was best man." "Busy little creature!" interjected Billie. "But but !" "You know his wife," said George casually. "She was a Miss Faraday. I think she was your secretary."
Lord Marshmoreton tore himself away from the bird. "Why, when I was at Oxford in the year '87," he said chattily, "I fancied myself in love with the female assistant at a tobacconist shop. Desperately in love, dammit. Wanted to marry her. I recollect my poor father took me away from Oxford and kept me here at Belpher under lock and key. Lock and key, dammit.
"They are very rough," continued Alice, addressing her conversation to the seat of his lordship's corduroy trousers. Lord Marshmoreton always assumed a stooping attitude when he saw Miss Faraday approaching with papers in her hand; for he laboured under a pathetic delusion, of which no amount of failures could rid him, that if she did not see his face she would withdraw.
Possibly the only member of the castle community who was absolutely indifferent to these public visits was Lord Marshmoreton. He made no difference between Thursday and any other day.
"You'll find you can help it after you've been cooped up here for a few more months," said Percy. A gentle smile played over Maud's face. "Love laughs at locksmiths," she murmured softly, and passed from the room. "What did she say?" asked Lord Marshmoreton, interested. "Something about somebody laughing at a locksmith? I don't understand. Why should anyone laugh at locksmiths?
I've a good mind to go over and pass the time of day." "Don't!" pleaded his wife. "I feel so guilty." "Who is it?" asked George again. "Your step-mother?" "Great Scott, no!" said Reggie. "Nothing so bad as that. It's old Marshmoreton." "Lord Marshmoreton!" "Absolutely! And looking positively festive." "I feel so awful, Mr. Bevan," said Alice.
She had become inured to the spectacle of her brother working in the garden in corduroy trousers and in other ways behaving in a manner beneath the dignity of an Earl of Marshmoreton. She had resigned herself to the innate flaw in the character of Maud which had allowed her to fall in love with a nobody whom she had met without an introduction.
He had not even told Miss Faraday. "Perhaps at this very moment," went on Lady Caroline, "the dear boy is proposing to her." Lord Marshmoreton grunted, and continued to peer with a questioning eye in the awesome brew which he had prepared for the thrips. "One thing is very satisfactory," said Lady Caroline.
You've spent your time collecting old china and prayer rugs. You wear flannel next your skin . . ." "Will you please be quiet," said Lady Caroline impatiently. "Go on, Percy." "Oh, very well," said Lord Marshmoreton. "I only spoke. I merely made a remark." "You say you saw Maud in Piccadilly, Percy?" "Precisely.
Go at the very earliest opportunity." "Oh, all right, all right, all right. Well, I think I'll be slipping out to the rose garden again now. There's a clear hour before dinner." There was a tap at the door. Alice Faraday entered bearing papers, a smile of sweet helpfulness on her pretty face. "I hoped I should find you here, Lord Marshmoreton.