For once you must have been wrong, and it would have been better for me to have worked in the gutter! I wonder if you felt that at the end. But we had given our word. Augustus held us to it, and no Calincourt had ever broken his word. By the afternoon post came a letter from Sir Antony Thornhirst. He had returned from Scotland, he said, and hoped we would soon pay him our promised visit.
Dodd was extremely ill at ease among the other ladies, but was determined to let them know that she considered herself their superior in every way. At the moment when she was recounting, in a strident voice, the shortcomings of one of her local neighbors, the butler announced: "Sir Antony Thornhirst." Our ninth gun had arrived.
Come with me," she commanded. Mr. Dodd obeyed, and they retired to the library together. They are evidently quite at home here, and did not need any attention from me. Antony Thornhirst was the only other guest unemployed, and he immediately rose and went to write letters in the hall, he said. He had refused to play bridge on account of this important correspondence.
I wonder what has become of my kinsman, Antony Thornhirst. He came with Lady Tilchester to the wedding. I saw his strange eyes looking at me as I walked down the aisle on Augustus's arm. His face was the only one I realized in the crowd. We did not speak; indeed, he never was near me afterwards until I got into the carriage. I wonder if he will be at Harley I wonder!
I could not say, as I felt, "But that is the one thing I should like you to do," so I said nothing, and, as soon as I could get near the bell unperceived, rang for McGreggor again, and put an end to the scene. Next morning at breakfast Augustus said: "As Farrington has refused for the 15th, you had better write and ask that fellow Thornhirst your cousin.
"Where on earth have you been?" he said, crossly. "That Dodd woman has been driving us all mad! Willie Dodd came and joined us at bridge and took McCormack's place, and the old she-tike came after him and chattered like a monkey until she got him away. Where were you that you did not look after her?" "I was here, in my sitting-room, talking to Sir Antony Thornhirst," I said, almost laughing.
We do not die for biscuits, but because we love the lady," said Antony. I bent down and kissed Ulfus, who was nearest to me. "Now I am going to show you some Thornhirst pictures and some older Athelstans that are in the hall and the dining-room, and a portrait of my mother that I have in my own smoking-room." Antony made the most interesting guide.
Just as we had begun luncheon to-day, Sir Antony Thornhirst came in, and, after a casual greeting to every one, sat down near me. He seems quite at home here, and as if he were accustomed to turning up unannounced in this way. I felt such a queer, quick beating in my heart. I suppose because among all these strangers he was some one I knew before.
"And where is your promised bouquet, my child?" she asked. I faltered. "Well, you see, grandmamma, I put it in a chair after the beginning, and Mrs. Gurrage sat on it, so I thought perhaps, as it was all mashed, I could leave it behind." Grandmamma laughed; she was pleased, I could see, that the evening had gone off without a fiasco! "I met Sir Antony Thornhirst," I said.
He was a younger son and in the diplomatic service before he made his bêtise, but if he was alive now he would be over a hundred years old, so during that time the family has naturally branched off a good deal, and we can't be said to be very nearly related to them. The place was not entailed, and went with the female line into the Thornhirst family, who live there now.