‘What will you pay me for it?’
‘I will give you a kiss.’
‘I will pour out my whole heart’s contents for that.’
‘Then do not tantalise me. What is it?’
‘What do you wish best of all?’
Lady Grace slightly coloured.
‘You do not like Miss Rigsby, do you?’ asked Lucy.
‘Oh, Lucy! don’t ask such a question.’
‘I do not. I detest her, a nasty, spoiled, conceited piece of goods, without fresh feeling, without good taste, without healthy brains.’
‘You must not say that,’ said Lady Grace.
‘I must and I will. I could not do so before. I can now.’ Her eyes danced, the dimples came in her pretty rosy cheeks, and her lips quivered. ‘Only think! Lord Saltcombe is home. It is all off.’
‘Herbert home!’ exclaimed Lady Grace. ‘What is off?’
‘The engagement. Broken off, and a good thing too. I am heartily glad, and could dance for joy. So could you. You never liked her. You never thought her worthy of Lord Saltcombe.’
‘Oh, Lucy!’ Lady Grace stood up. She was nervous with excitement. ‘Oh, dear Lucy, is this so? How do you know it?’
‘It is quite true. Are you not glad?’
Lady Grace hesitated and looked into the fire. ‘I do not know what to say. I hope he has not behaved badly. I cannot think that he has. Yet the breaking off of the engagement can hardly come from her. She seemed very fond of him.’
‘You may be quite sure Lord Saltcombe would not do what is wrong. I know nothing about how it came about, I only know that it is so. You never liked her, did you?’
‘No. I did my utmost to become attached to her, but I could not. How did you hear of this?’
‘Through my father.’
‘Did Lord Saltcombe write to him? Herbert has not deigned to send me a line since he left.’
‘Lord Saltcombe is at our house.’
‘He did not like to appear here till Lord Ronald had prepared the Duke’s mind.’
‘Oh, Lucy! I wonder how he bears it. Do you think he was fond of her?’