Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/408

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A Bundle of Life.

on remembering that the millionaire wrote poetry, very bad poetry, too. "Felicia is certainly good-looking," he said; "perhaps you are aware that her mother, the former Lady Twacorbie, was an American. She made Twacorbie an excellent wife, however, greatly improved the estate and was very much liked by the Royalties. She died young."

"Good wives so often do" murmured Van Huyster, "perhaps that is one of their brightest virtues."

Sir Ventry abhorred anything in the nature of satire—it seemed to him a convenient name for offensive and unmistakable allusions to his own character and career. On this occasion he wondered whether Van Huyster was aware that he, too, Sir Ventry Coxe, had in his day buried some sixty-three inches of weary perfection. He decided to ignore the remark.

"One can see," he said, "that Felicia is extremely un-English: her manners are a little crude. But I like a woman who can talk: a man wants to be amused, he does not want to wear his brains out amusing a wife!"

At this point Lord Twacorbie rose up from the table.

The pantry was immediately behind the dining-room—and here, at the close of the dinner, Spalding, the butler, the head-gardener, Luffy, and Mrs. Danby, the housekeeper, were engaged in conversation of an even more instructive nature than that indulged by Lord Twacorbie and his distinguished company.

"Who came down from town this evening?" asked Luffy.