Lane, a shrewd little woman with a half contemptuous liking for Wharton, let him know on the strength of a chance meeting with Lady Ermyntrude that the Winterbournes would be at the Masterton party on the 26th. They had persuaded Miss Boyce to stay for it, and she would go back to her work the Monday after.
"It will hardly be possible to ask Miss Boyce here unless she does!" said Aldous. "And you reckon that I am not likely to go to Mellor, even to see her? And you want me to say a word to other people to the Winterbournes and the Levens, for instance?" "Precisely," said Aldous. Lord Maxwell meditated; then rose. "Let me now appease the memory of Clarke by going to bed!"
If I didn't send a man up half-past five in the morning, when the ears begin to fill, there'd be nothing left for us. 'Why don't you complain to the agent? I said. 'Complain! Lor' bless you, miss, you may complain till you're black in the face. I've allus found an' I've been here, man and boy, thirty-two year as how Winterbournes generally best it. There you have the whole thing in a nutshell.
I told him everybody talked about it which, of course, was rubbish and at last I said, 'Ask anybody; ask the Winterbournes, ask Miss Boyce they all think it as much as I do. 'Miss Boyce! he said 'Miss Boyce thinks I want to marry Betty Macdonald? Then I didn't know what to say for, of course, I knew I'd taken your name in vain; and he sat down on the grass beside a little stream there is in the park, and he didn't speak to me for a long time I could see him throwing little stones into the water.
I would sooner disappear from everybody I know from you and mamma, from England and never be heard of again." She stopped a moment struggling for composure that she might not excite him too much. "Besides, it would be absurd! You forget I have seen a good deal of Mr. Raeburn lately while I have been with the Winterbournes. He has entirely given up all thought of me.
Meanwhile, step by step, she brought the conversation to less dangerous things, and she was finally gliding into some chat about the Winterbournes when he interrupted her abruptly "And that other fellow Wharton. Your mother tells me you have seen him in London. Has he been making love to you?" "Suppose I won't be catechised!" she said gaily, determined to allow no more tragedy of any kind.
For a while, after Lady Selina's confidences, jealous annoyance, together with a certain reckless state of nerves, turned him almost into the pining lover. For he could not see Marcella. She came no more to Mrs. Lane; and the house in James Street was not open to him. He perfectly understood that the Winterbournes did not want to know him. At last Mrs.
Figsbury Rings is the name of the camp-crowned summit to the east of our road. The first three villages are all "Winterbournes " Earls, Dauntsey and Gunner. The first two have rebuilt churches, but the third Gunner has a Transitional building of some interest. The name is a corruption of Gunnora, spouse of one of the Delameres who were lords hereabouts in the early thirteenth century.
"Besides, papa, you can't read your gossip as good people should. Mr. Wharton's engagement to a certain Lady Selina Farrell a distant cousin of the Winterbournes was announced, in several papers with great plainness three weeks ago." At that moment her mother came in, looking anxiously at them both, and half resentfully at Marcella. Marcella, sore and bruised in every moral fibre, got up to go.
"Oh, I saw her last year several times at the Wattons' and other places," said Betty, composedly. "And so did you too, please, madam. I remember very well one day Mrs. Watton brought her into the Winterbournes' when you and I were there, and she chattered a great deal." "Oh yes! I had forgotten." "Well, my dear, you'll soon have to remember her! so you needn't talk in that lofty tone.