Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/312

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296
Study in Temptations.
 

such a variety of (more or less uncertain) knowledge, from metaphysic to the Greek drama, that she was, as she told her aunt, prepared for anything. In imagination, she had walked in courts and marketplaces, in ancestral halls and suburban villas ; poets, scholars, and wits were her constant companions, not to mention kings and archbishops; for one accustomed to such company, the Dowager Countess of Warbeck, and even a row of flunkies, had no terror. When she saw the big drawing-rooms at Queen's Gate (the Dowager's town residence) she thought that the kitchen at Up-at-Battle's was more cheerful. Even the piano, which had ebony legs and was elegantly draped in an Indian shawl, seemed to cry out for a sympathetic touch. Jane in her grey alpaca felt very sorry for it. Lady Warbeck had been fully prepared to see her trip over the rugs, slide off the brocaded chairs, and dazzled by the unaccustomed splendour of her surroundings. It was disappointing in some respects that she did not, yet, on the whole, satisfactory.

"To-morrow," said her ladyship, "I suppose you would like to see Grosvenor Square?"

"Any day you think best, grandmamma!" said Jane.

The Dowager had told her that she preferred this mode of address. But, as her maid told the house-keeper, "Her lad'ship was not born yesterday—she knew what she was about, bless you!"

"Trust her," said the housekeeper, "she's got the brains of the whole family; she'll marry Lady Jane to his lordship—mark my words!"

Thus profanely do hirelings discern the hidden motives of the mighty.