Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/456

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A Bundle of Life.

Lady Mallinger. She was greatly embarrassed, a fact which he easily attributed to her sudden encounter with himself. Smiling magnanimously, he waited until she had regained her composure.

"Shall we go into the garden?" he suggested.

No, she was feeling rather tired; she had a slight headache; he would find her a very dull companion.

"Do come," he said, in his most persuasive manner.

Teresa, who was always amused at his conceit, and who had a motherly, pitying affection for the weaknesses which did duty for his character, yielded the point and followed him. He began to talk of former days: he reminded her of his five-and-twentieth birthday, when she gave him a hunter and wore a black cloak lined with scarlet.

"You look awfully well in scarlet," he observed. She blushed: scarlet was Wiche's favourite colour. Sir Ventry, however, took the blush to himself.

"I always admired you, you know," he said; "there is not a woman in the family who has got such a complexion, and your eyelashes are so long!"

"It is very nice of you to say so," said Teresa: "I, myself, do not think they are bad. Once or twice I have thought I looked quite decent!"

He glanced at her sideways. Was she really so plain as all the women made out?

"I am awfully fond of you," he said suddenly.

Teresa was by no means dense. "My dear Ventry," she said, with rather a nipping air, "let us talk like reasonable beings."

"I am quite serious," he replied. "Will you marry me, Teresa?"

"Certainly not. You must be mad."