Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/300

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THE Dowager Countess of Warbeck awoke one morning at eight o'clock and discovered that she could not fall asleep again. She rang for her maid, complained that she had passed an extremely bad night (for she usually slept till nine), and arose from her bed.

"Will your ladyship have breakfast earlier than usual?" said the maid.

"No," said her ladyship, who did not feel hungry; "but tell Dawson to sound the gong for prayers at half-past eight." She therefore put her bad night to excellent account by reading her assembled household three lessons instead of one. Would that all good Christians killed their time with so much profit—to others!

When the domestics had solemnly filed out of the big dining-room, the Dowager turned to her grandson—the one prop of her declining years—with an air of almost tragic appeal.

"I suppose," she said, "I must go to Brentmore and see this Battle—or Cattle—person?"

"It would look more friendly, if you did," said her grandson, "but I have no wish to urge anything of the kind upon you, if you feel unequal to it."

"I never allow myself to feel unequal to a duty, Warbeck. But the position is heart-breaking."