hey ho look at my outer adult awayke and on the job at 729 proof that it is xmas and she is full of thots of bakking and cuiking and londering. we get xmas 2x agane this yeer--polish and canadjan-brittish wich menes more sweet stuff for me and lots of yummy fat.
sadlie it looks like the infamus risky chapter will be published on xmas eve quel skandal well it is a bodis riper after all yuo cud advert yore eies and read it boxing day when i think i am doo to ryte sum new stuff.
ok so heer the plot thikkens in a way to further torment the puir pewsies. clementyna is so wikked. the wikked are definitely having sevral feeld days in a row.
THE BODIS RIPER!!!!
part 3 (kut & payst the 3)
altho the gardens of pewsey huose riotted with duftie naychur indoors all was brittel artifys. the erl of grunestayn his familie and his servitors were determined to pretend that all was well and that no korner in london hissed with wispers about the wyld ladie proodens. thus the huose was even bizzier that ushooal.
the erl added konsert dayts to his skedjool so as to affix the musik-luvving duke of klarens to his syd. the kountess sent ever mor dinner invitashuns and planned ever mor x-pensiv and e-laborate menoos so as to tempt the appetyt of such bon-vivants as the prins of wayls. proodens was parayded in evry fashunabul local her mother cud think of from morning to nite. even the infant pewsies were n-listed in the family caws by being tayken to hyde park during the most fashunabul hower and displayed to sentimental laydies by the cowntess herself.
the ton wached all this aktivitie and was unshur wat to do. that sir charles had fot the clergiman brother of the dowajer duchess of paisley in a dooel was an on-dit that had swept the town. that laydie proodens pewsey had ridden to the seen on his lordships fynest stallion was similarlie common knowlej. wether she had com to pleed for her father or her luvver was an open qwestshun one hotlie debayted by the clubmen of st james and the ladies of almacks when no pewsey was in earshot. whatevr the anser the newlie celebrayted the honorubel the reverend mister hewbert robinson was sed to hover between lyf and deth.
that was on the debit syd of the pewsey ledjer. on the kredit syd sir charles was so awfullie rich and the pewseys wer putting up such a marvelus show besyds. wen asked about the dooel at White's sir charles was herd to laff litelie and say that hewbert wud thank him for a very saloobrius blud-letting adding that he (grunestane) was of a mind to send him (hewbert) a bill. lady grunestayn wen offered condolenses in the park had smyled raised her grape-green eies to heven and sed that puir hewbert had always been qwik to qwarel over nothing she mynded he had been famus for dooels in his oxford days. lady proodens wen twitted by her peers abowt canterbury replasing calcutta in her afekshuns tirned wyd bloo eies upon them and--as planely coached to do--smyled and sed "watever do you mene?" morover the more yoothful and therfor less risabul of laydie proodens admirers remayned as loyal as ever. the dashing sir nikkolas cameron for x-ampel was ever on the pewsey doorstep.
it seemed that the pewseys wud carry it off--at leest until the reverend dyed—but then laydie jersey hoo had got up on the rong syd of the bed that morning and was feeling old and past it suddenlie desided to cut laydie proodens in hyd park.
cut laydie proodens she did in the full veiw of several members of the ton and altho proodens had the wit to say to say to the neerest gulping cavalier that ladie jersie was looking shockingly ill news of the n-cownter swept london. the next morning a few hitherto daily visitors were missing from the pewsey drawingroom. the following day several more were absent. laydie grunestayn lifted speeking eies to her lord wen he returned home from whites. he meerlie nodded and shut himself in his chaymber. that nite laydie proodens cryed herself to sleep. the fact that at the opera that evening sir nikkolas cameron had pressed her hand with an unprecidented warmth and murmered "couraj!" in her ear was stranjlie of little comfort.
the servants of cors were agast at this tirn of evvents and much conserned for the well being and presidens of thier familie. and thus mr mcauliffe was hardpressed--indeed i beleev he fayled--to keep a shade of releef and a note of his pride wen upon the following morning he opened the door to the morning sitting-room and announsed:
'clementina, duchess of paisley'.
the pewsies had not been totallie deserted and so a considerabul number of eies turned towards the open door and the harts of even the most cloth-heded lifted as they saw the luvlie dowajer--a hi stikler if there ever was one--enter the stately chamber and greet the cowntess of grunestayn with grate cordialitie. for her part the cowntess forgot every pang of envie and resentment of hewberts bewtiful sister and barelie manajed to suppress teers of releef.
'but were is laydie proodens?' cryed the duchess. 'were is the most curajeous the most nobel of my countriwummen? aha!' she added spotting prudens on a settee just behind the standing sir nikkolas. 'my deer laydie proodens! we have so much to talk abowt.'
proodens seeing the releef that swept her mamas fase lokked her deep dislyk for the dowajer into a mental strongbox threw it into an imajinarie oshan and figuratively swallowed the metaforical key. she smyled and said she was in her grace's det.
'indeed not' sed the duchess sweeping graysefully akross the room. 'it is i hoo am in yore det. my deer laydie proodens hav those old kats been very unkynd to you?'
'oh no' lyed proodens polytlie as she had bene tot. 'evryone is always so kynd! but yore grays---how does your brother?'
'very well now thanks to you' trilled the dowager clasping proodens ryt hand with its single ring between her own ornatelie bejewelled hands. 'let us not mints wirds. i know a good deal of wat has happened and i must say that i am shokked at hewberts owtrageous beehavior. i cownt myself luckie that wen he saw me yore butler did not deklayr you all away from hoam! i can only hoap you will all forgiv my silly brother. you will forgiv him laydie proodens will you not?'
the hitherto frank proodens cud not utter. after days and days of cold anger from her parents worried glanses from the servants and the stares and giggels of the ton such overt sympathie from one she had konsidered an n-emie made her redie to weep. insted she clasped the duchesses hands in her own warm grip.
'wat qwarrel he pikked with yore father i do not kno' sed the duchess in such qwieter tones that the bystanders felt rather vexed and had much ado to pretend they were not eevesdroping. (the cowntess for her part had sent the butler posthaste for the erl.) 'and i hav no dowt that sir charles did wat he cud to appees hewbert and that if onlie hewbert had not strukk him---.' she broke off and looked away. 'wat you all must think of us!'
'hewbert--mister robinson is papas deerest freind of oxford days' sed proodens in an unstedie voys. 'papa luvs him very much. indeed we all luv him very much.'
she dropped her eies befor the duchess swift dark-eyed glans and fiddled with the lays on the end of her sleev.
'i am glad to heer you say so' sed the duchess. 'but i am afrayd ther is a streek of madness in us robinsons! o! i will not burden you with my konfidenses--or my sorrows--but i hav thot it perhaps best that hewbert has never married and that i and my dear beloved husband never... but enuff of that! now that i kno wat a kreditubel horsewumman you are--nay do not blush--i hoap i at leest kno the differens between hoydenishness and heroism! --we must tawk of horseflesh. do you dryv? i cannot rekollect if i have seen you do so.'
thus the conversayshun trotted onto less e-moshunallie perilus ground and proodens was feeling as close to her old edinburah self as she had in weeks when the door opened agayn and sir charles n-tered the room. proodens looked up to see her mother beeming besyd her overjoyed father as they looked together at the duchess and their daughter on the settee. Her heart thumped in her chest and now she was hard-pressed not to drop tears of relief. She thus neither heard nor reflected on the duchesses swift intake of breth.
'my deer clementine' cryed the erl of grunstayn all other guests momentarily forgotten. He suddenly recollected his manners and breiflie greeted them all before stryding to the settee. The duchess unklapsed her hands from the daughter and offered the to the father. He kissed them with troo homaj.
'now hewbert' he sed. 'how is he?'
'tolerably well' sed the duchess. 'he fell into a fever almost as soon as he was abed but this morning he finally took a turn for the better.'
'provvidens be thanked' sed charles. 'move asyd there proodens. i wish to sit down. i was almost mad with worrie clemmie. wy did you not send wird? wy did you not answer the door?'
'i was advissed not to' sed the cowntess. 'some impertinet jaknayps of a doktor--i forget his naym--but i hav sent him abowt his bizness and summoned a proper fisishun from harley street--a scotch fisishun this tym.'
'but may i see him?' asked charles.
the cowntess luiked grayv.
'to tell you the trooth i do not kno if that is wise sir charles' she sed. 'i hav had the most trubbling korrespondens from our brother henry. i will not trubbel you with the deetayls but it wud appeer that wen hewbert was recovvering from his stroak or kollishun of humors you prayed on his mynd.'
'i' sed charles astonished.
'yes' sed clementyn. 'he seemed to think that he had ronged you in terribul way.'
'but i doant understand' sed the erl frowning. 'wen he first kaym to n-gland he seemed to hav thot that i had ronged him in sum terribul way.'
the duchess sihed.
'alas puir hewbert!' she sed. 'he is lyk a wethervayn! first he thot he had ronged you and then he thot you had ronged him and now he thinks both that he has ronged you and that i hav ronged him. he thinks i am plotting to keep you and all his servants from him.'
'good hevens' sed the erl. 'but this is terribul! are you saying that his old trubbel reelie has retirned?'
'alas' sed hewberts sister. 'i do not kno wat to think. but sir charles i think i hav hit upon a plan. i dayr not ask you to visit hewbert lest he becom even mor deranged in mind but wat if deer laydie proodens wer to visit him?'
'a kapital ideya' cryed the erl and his brow kleered. 'indeed i am shur that hermione and proo-! but wat is rong?'
'ah ha ha ha ha ha' tittered the duchess unkomfortablie. 'i think charles... i think it wud be best if i wer aloud to chaperon proodens myself. you see...hewbert also gets verie x-ersized when ladie grunestayn is menshuned.'
'x-ersized? wat can you meen?'
clementine touched her slim fingers to her forehed and looked over at the chimniepees as if for aid. sir nikkolas was leaning on it fiddling with a peece of stafordsheer potterie. he looked up and as theyr eies met clementine droped her gaze and kleered her throt.
'well' she sed. 'he weeps.'
'he weeps!' x-claymed charles. 'but wat madness to weep over hermione! i kollekt she was most kross over his sillie sermon but that is no reeson for him to weep. by jove clemmie i thot you sed hewbert was better!'
'better in body' sed clementine in low tones 'but not in spirit. will you not give laydie proodens permisshun to visit?'
'gladlie' sed charles. 'wat say you proodens? wud you undertayk to cheer owr old freind?'
proodens flushed red than wyt then red agane. goodness pubertie sucks. i think it wud be better if peeple cud go strait from being children to being adults with no teenage stuff in between. howver if yore body goes thru all those weerd chanjes yore brane has to too. anyway proodens had a guid run havving been basically been a cayrfree chyld up until now. hay-ho. it is better to be an inner child than an outer one that is for shur. for xample orijinal proodens had been so overwhelmed by noo proodens sins the dooel that she had all the vim and vigor of a dust mop.
'yes papa' sed noo proodens softlie. 'i wud be glad to do so'.
'but not yet' sed the cowntess clapping her hands and getting to her feet. across the room the men sprang to their feet. 'for now i crayv another boon. my horses hav been sadlie in need of x-cerzis whyl i hav been attending hewbert and both they and i long for a dryv. will you go for a dryv with me in hyd park proodens? not at this unfashunabul hour of corse but this afternoon? then i shall carrie yoo hoam to see hewbert and perhaps hav a littel supper.'
'i wud be very happie' sed noo proodens a split second befor orijinal proodens grasped the soshul implikashuns and perked up.
'another capital idea' sed the erl of grunestayn. he followed his gest as she took her leev of everyone in the room and went out the door. as he akkompanied her to the front door he bent his brown head over her red one and tayking her hand sed qwietlie 'god bless you clemmie! you cud not hav come at a better tym.'
'i kno my dere' sed the dowajer duchess of paislie raysing dark sollemn eies to his. 'i kaym as soon as i cud and beleev me charles i am off this minit to have a wird with laydie jersey.'
'you are too good' sed charles in a chokked voys.
the dowajer luiked as if she wud lyk to say sumthing else but thot better of it. insted she smyled.
'poor charles' she sed softlie. 'the tryls and tribewlayshuns of a husband and father. but heer is mcauliffe. it is mcauliffe isnt it?'
the butler bowed.
'yes yore grays.'
'my new ladiesmayd?'
'alredy in yore carriaj yore grays' sed mcauliffe woodenlie.
'very good mcauliffe' sed the duchess. 'goodby charles. ill be bak for laydie proodens at five."
charles kissed her perfewmed hand and she went out to the street. her coachman sprang down to open the door to her carriaj--emblazoned with the paisley arms--and mcauliffe helped her insyd. sharlott looked at her noo mistress from her korner and offered her a tentativ smyle.
'ah sharlott' sed the beawtiful dowajer. 'ther you are. i wonder my deer girl if you wud mynd ryding on the box with steven coachman? i wish to think.'
her hart was beeting overrapidlie and her senses swam a littel. her hand seemed to burn ware charles had kissed it.
sharlott obedientlie left the carriaj and shut the door. the duchess took a kompakt looking-glas from her reticewl and looked at herself in it. her dark eies were as dilayted as if she had been tayking belladonna.
'he will be myn' she sed and snapped the kompakt shut.
she knocked on the seeling and the karrij lept forward. minuts latyer the duchess was in frances jersies droring room pulling off her gloves.
'my deer clementyn' sed laydie jersie. 'wat are you abowt? prinnie is coming for nuncheon i am run off my feet. indeed i wud not hav been hoam to you had you not been shut up all this week.'
'tym was of the essens' sed the duchess. 'that puir puir child. how cud you do it frankie? a chit out of the skoolroom?'
the princes sekret mistress had the grays to blush.
'i kollekt you meen wyld proodens pewsey' she sed. 'hmm! now thats very interesting. leev us jonson' she sed to the payg. 'i wud be uninterrupted for the next 15 minits. i am not hoam to anyone. tell cookie that the merangs will do but that we had better have another chiken to be on the safe syd. now go.'
'merciful hevens!' sed the duchess wen the footman was gone. she throo herself down on a settie and gazed at her freind. 'is that wat the ton is calling her? the child is as innosent as a bayb unborn.'
'so thats the lyn your going to tayk' sed laydie jersie brazenlie. 'wen may we wish yore brother happie?'
'seeing as my brother is currently off his head i simplie cud not imajin' sed hewberts sister koolie. 'ther is no lyn to tayk frankie. my brothers parlormayd--a pewsey byblow insidentally--got wind of the dooel and rushed off to warn laydie proodens. yes terribul but our skottish ways are rather less stuffy and the relayshunship between master and man and mistress and made is more like that of familie than in ngland. Tyes of blud but i shant waste my breth x-plaining.'
'a pewsie byblow?' shreeked laydie jersie 'not of the delektable charles clementyn i never was so shokked wy they say he is the most fastideeus thing in naychur.'
'good lord i hoap not' sed the duchess. 'although it wud sertanely serve... that is to say that his buxom cowntess mite be a littel less hi in the instep. But you never herd it from me franses. Besyds i am not heer to tittel-tattel but to tell you that i am going to aknowledj laydie proodens wether you lyk it or not. if she was one of the artfull baggajs iv seen abowt this seeson id let her twist in the wind and good riddence. but she is an innosent child and im not going to let the ton rooin her chances of a good mach.'
'and yet you say wedding bells are not going to chym?'
'not for my brother' sed the duchess. 'he may be my brother frankie but beleev me it wud be out of the frying pan into the fyr for the puir child. o i daresay charles had some hoaps of mayking a mach between his doter and his old freind. but i wudnt wish that fayt on littel proodens. it wud almost be insest.'
laydie jersie looked at her keenlie.
'insest! how do you meen?'
'oh well' sed the duchess with studied vagueness. 'i am shur hewbert has been lyk an unkel to her all thes yeers.'
'my hed is all a-wirl' sed laydie jersie. 'i will call on you as soon as i can. you say yore brother is not after all the girls luvver?'
'and thus she was not the occashun for the dooel?'
'then wat on earth was?'
'to mayk a long and paynful storie short frankie hewbert struk charles.'
'yes i know that but wy?'
the duchess seemed too sag. she lost her riteous x-presshun and sank into the pillows of her chayr.
'i cudnt say frances becas i reelie doant kno. i think ther may be a wumman at the bottom of it but wat wumman i simplie cud not tell you. but doant sujest it was laydie proodens becos onlie a zany cud look at that girl and think she cud hav anything to do with it. a most refreshing innosens. she reminds me of myself at that ayj.'
laydie jersies thots turned breeflie to all she had ever herd of the layt dook of paisley and sitting besyd her dejected freind patted her hand.
'ther ther clementyn. it is the lot of wimmen after all. i am sorry now that i cut yore littel freind. ill find sum way to mayk it up to her--altho reallie a stallyon! wat was the girl thinking?'
'probably that it was the fastest hors in the staybels' sed clementyn. 'wat skotland needs is a grate poet or ryter to reveel to you n-glish the grate heroism of our skottish wimmen and our loyaltie to our klan! and that reminds me that i had better get bakk to my striken brother. poor hewbert. whooever the wumman is he is sertanely taking it hard.'
laydie jersie shook her hed in sympathy and then sat up strait as if she had been stung.
"hermione!" she x-claymed.
the dowayjer stared.
"hermione!" cryed laydie jersie agane. 'o that sly boots. clementyn---you dont imagin?'
'good hevens no' gasped the duchess. she laffed litely. 'my deer franses. consider charles. the very glass of fashun and mold of form! no no no. i kollekt you have not seen my brother in some yeers. no match for a charles grunestane beleev me! besides he is a clergyman he wud never.. that is...no! he wud never commit such a crym!'
'i beg yore pardon clementyn' sed laydie jersie carefullie wyping her fase of its prurient x-presshun of delyt in skandal. 'i kollect we are tawking of yore brother. forgiv me.'
'i forgiv you' sed clementyn with a sisterly kiss. 'but mind you forgiv laydie proodens for wat was after all in our cowntrie heroik feelial pietie.'
she got up to go.
'by the way' she sed tirning at the door. 'evrything iv sed abowt my brother franses. i kno i need not ask...'
'of corse not' sed franses jersie.
the beeuwtiful yung duchess of paisley desended the steps of ladie jerseys town hoam and a crewl smyle curved upon her lips. she ordered her dryver to tayk her to hoam and no sooner had she alited but the carriaj of a gentleman pulled up before the huose. a gentleman in a top hat and blak frock coat alited. this was sir viktor egret of harley street and after ascertayning his identitie clementyn welcomed him into the huose and ushered him in the bedchaymber of her strikken brother.
quite a chanj had been wrot in the sikroom. the stayl air was now fresh and sweet and the chaymber smelled of lavender and freshlie ironed linen. a bol of grayps stood redie by the bed as did a helthful bottel of wiskey. hewbert had been proped up agaynst fresh pillos. his linen niteshirt had been chanjed--despyte his week shreeks of modest protest--and his unfashunablie long hare had been jerked free of nots and tangels. snow-whyt sheets overlayd with a bloo silk coverlet covverd him up to his chest.
sir viktor took in the sceen and smyled for altho he was a good doktor and prowd of his reputayshun he luvved a good fee and the room smelt even more stronglie of money than it did of lavender. ther was nothing so good for his pokket book as a long lingering illness and one look at hewberts wan fase sujested it.
'hewbert darling' trilled clementyn from the door. 'here is sir vikor egret of harley street come to mayk you comfortable.'
hewbert opened his eies and looked bleerilie at his visiter. his sisters henchwumman had but resentlie given him a dose of a powerful sedativ. it was the onlie way she cud chanj his shirt.
'comfortable? comfortable?' he murmured. 'is ther comfort to be fownd on this side of the grayv?'
'now now mr robinson' sed sir vikor hartilie as he strode to the bed. 'that is not the lyn to tayk sir. you must think happie thots. a fensing ahem axsident is nothing to eat owt yore hart abowt.'
'it is not i sir that eats out my hart but yonder harpie by the door. and wen she has eeten her fill wat must she do but send another harpie drooling with filthie lusts to pillaj and chew?'
'o sir viktor' sed clementyn wipping out her lacie handkerchef and holding it to her eies. 'how he raves!'
'hmm' sed the doktor and bent over hewbert. he looked into his eies and started. 'his pupils are dilated! may i have been asked wat has he been given?'
'only tinkchur of belladonna and opium' sed clementyn piteouslie.
'hmm' sed the doktor. 'the belladonna is all very well but i think he ot not to hav so much opium. kombyned with fever it may overset his reeson.'
'but the payn doktor,' sed the bewtie. 'i kannot bare to see him in payn.'
'wat do you meen?' sed hewbert in slurred tones. 'you ken you lyk nothing better. the payn in my shuolder is nothing to the payn of being in the cluches of such an unnatural sister.'
the duchess sed nothing but merelie mayd sobbing noyses into her hankerchif.
'deer me' sed the doctor. 'if you will permit me mr robinson to lay bare yor shuolder...?'
'my servants?' sed hewbert. 'were are my servants? are they ded? imprisoned? transported? wer is angus macdonald? wer is littel sharlott?'
'good hevens yore grays' sed the doktor startled agane. 'hoo has been attending yore brother? this wuond is n-tyrlie inflaymed!'
'o deer' sed clementyn her fays firmlie disgized by her hankerchif. 'i cannot recall. a doktor smith? i think that it is--smith.'
'liar' slurred hewbert. 'harpie. she-devil.'
'you did very well to dismiss this doktor smith' sed the doktor sternlie. 'this sadlie neglekted wuond will tayk careful tending now. if the infekshun spreds i will have to remoov his arm.'
'no' cryed hewbert struggling up. 'you can not remoov my arm you minion of satan it is consecrayted.'
'i beleev your grays...'sed the doktor meeningfullie. clementyn rang the bell and two footmen attended by rufus the blak payjboy kaym in.
'wat fresh villanie is this?' demanded hewbert as the men held him down. 'help! help! angus! angus! angus! help!'
'not too much' muttered the doctor over his needel 'we do not want to over-slow the hart.' he gayv hewbert the injekshun and the man fell limp among the pillows. the doktor plased his head over hewberts hart and then lifted his eielid. the duchess nodded to the servants and they left the room.
'it will be some time befor he regayns conshusnes poor fellow' sed sir viktor. 'ill retirn this evning to bleed him.'
'i am very gratful to you sir viktor' sed clementyn. 'wat must i do in the meentym?'
'wy nothing yore grays' sed the doktor. 'you must leev him striklie alone. he must not be over-xited--that cud be qwyt fatal. it is not just the wuond--it is his hart. i do not wish to make you over-anxious yore grays but i beleev i hav detekted sum maladie of the hart. either too slow a hartbeet or too rapid cud depress his helth very rapidlie.'
clementyn willed a blush.
'he longs abuv all for the visit of his friend the earl of grunstane' she mirmired. 'but i am afrayd..ehm..i hav herd...ehm...it has reeched my eers that sir charles was he hoo gayv him the...ehm...axsidental blow.'
'i see' sed the doktor with a serching luik of the bewtiful fays befor him. 'well in that cays yore grays it is my opinion that anyone involved in the seen of the..hem hem...axsident shud not be permited to enter this room.'
'verrie well sir viktor' sed clementyn. 'i will do my best to a-line my will with yores and not that of my brother. but you see how very very commanding he is.' she gayv a littel laff. 'it is for this reeson that i hav been forsed to mayk alternate arranjments for his staff.'
they left the room and after the butler had s-corted the grate man to the door clementyn sat at her ryting desk. she skribbled a note on a perfewmed sheet and rang for rufus the blak payjboy. within half an hour proodens fownd herself braking open the wayfer at the lunch taybel.
'well my dere' sed her mother affekshunatlie. 'wat does it say?'
'my deer ladie proodens' red proodens 'how delightfulie kynd of you to agree to add a yuothful note to wat will now be a very happie afternoon and evning indeed. send along yore finest dinner dress now and that way you will be unencombered for our dryv. how delited my brother will be to see you. your admirer clementina p.'
'wat a kind unaffekted kordial wumman she is' x-claymed hermione.
'yes' sed proodens and immediatelie scheemed abowt wat she wud ware.
it was in a costewm of rich fawn brown that proodens appeered in the park at the fashunable hour. and as evry club and dinner parties buzzed that evning she was driving none other than the dowajer duchess of paisleys bays as the dowajer duchess of paisley dressed in chocolate brown sat besyd her.
'grate hevens!' sed lady crane to lady cameron as clementine wayved to their barouche. 'i cannot beleev my eies!'
'bless my cuzzins maternal sole' sed lady cameron. 'you see there was nothing in all that stuff and nonsens about the dooel. poor lady proodens to be so malyned! my nikk is qwite mad about her you kno.'
'and there he is' sed lady crane as a blond man on horseback cot up to the paisley curricle. the curricle wich had been rolling along at a fine clip slowed as the horseman leaned towards it.
'i feel as if i have been transported to mount olympus' sed sir nikk 'for clearly venus and psyche have taken out phoebus chariot for a dryv.'
'and how am i to tayk that' demanded the red-haired duchess. 'watever else one kan say abowt her venus mayd a perfektlie friteful mother-in-law.'
'beter a mother-in-law than a sister-in-law' sed nikk meeningfulie and a blush tinged the fase of the young dryver.
'hush' sed clementyn rapping his rein-encased nukkels with her fan. 'shame on you when my poor brother is still so unwell. wen he seeses to rayv then such gentel jests are permissible--by family. but in the meantime mind your manners.'
'poor old fellow' sed sir nikk suppressing an envious sneer. 'but i beleev that parsons as a class are prone to such nervus disorders.'
'if only it were that' sihed the duchess with a swift look at her pretty charge. 'theres a streak of madness in we robinsons you kno. you shud thank heven that your syd of the familie is free of it. you can marry---and remarry--without the guilt of passing on the taint to children as yet unborn!'
her voice cot in her throte and although nikk was in general a very selfish man he thot that such an attitude was rather a waste of the dowayjers scrumptious charms.
'but never mind' clementyn continued britely 'it mayks me all the more fond of young girls like lady proodens here. doesnt that colour suit her wonderfully?'
'you both suit each other' sed sir nikk gliblie. 'i konfess i am almost overwelmed. i am sure i am the envy of every man in this park. by the way i dont suppose hermio--lady grunestayn is here this afternoon?'
proodens looked at him with a blue and icy gaze.
'mamma is at home,' sed the girl coldly 'with papa.'
'then i shall call upon them there' sed sir nikk easily and doffed his hat. 'good afternoon laydies.'
'goodness grayshus laydy proodens,' laffed the duchess when the blond head was out of earshot. 'wat a set down!'
'i didnt meen to be rood' she sed. she struggled for sumthing nise to say. 'he has always been so kind and attentiv.'
'i daresay' sed clementyn 'whip up those horses prudens or every gabbler in the park will think we are fair game. but as half the girls in town are setting thier caps at yung nikolas cameron you do very well to keep him at a distans. o the most trustworthy young man there is of corse but perhaps a little spoiled by attenshun. he is so handsome you see.'
'yes' sed proodens slowly 'he is handsome altho of corse not so handsome as papa--even to older ladies like mamma...'
'even to!' chortled the duchess. 'deer me proodens wat hav you been told abowt older ladies? i deklare i am shokked at yore cynicism. yes many older ladies in their dotage do becom entransed with young fases--la! the stories i cud tell you--but you can tayk it from me that no older ladie of cents wud hav anything to say to sir nikk wen yore father was in the room. deer me no. in fakt they wud be much more likely to prefer my poor brother... wy i think there was some tawk of hewbert corting hermione before charles fixed things up...."
"wat!" cried proodens and her face flamed. 'o no yore grays. i am qwite shur that cannot be. i hav never herd any such storie. mamma has told me many times that the only man who was ever---.'
she broke off. it was one thing to know that mamma had only ever had one suitor and qwite another to menshun it to another wumman.
'ever good enough for her' supplied the duchess hartily. 'well perhaps i am mistayken. i was still in the skoolroom after all. and they told me yore mother was such a serious shy girl--only confident wen she was arguing some philosophikal or ekonomik point! but as we hav seen she was a late bloomer blossoming into bewty in middle age. well some women are like that. i am shur i am happy for her.'
'mm-mamma?' stammered proodens. 'a bewty?'
'my dear girl how unfilial!' laffed clementyn. 'dont tell me you are envious of your mother! wy shud she not hav sum admirashun too?'
'but er i meen to say that is thank you very much' sed proodens doutfullie. ons agane she had the unhappy feeling of being possessed by two proodenses: the old proodens hoo sed and did whatever she liked and cared only for elefants and the new proodens who never knew wat to say and seemed always in the wrong and often wanted just to lie in bed and cry.
"your welcome' sed the duchess. 'as for nikk wat i wish is that he wud settle down with a very nice girl and not with one of those widows he is always seen with. really hes just a boy--but wat a deliteful man he will be wen he grows up. a wonderful catch for somebody'
she affected to sigh and then laffed.
'youll be thinking i'm in my dotage next! never mind all this tawk of bewty and luv laydie proodens! if you are satisfied that the horses hav had enuff i suggest we dryv home to supper. we shall dress you shall visit the poor invalid and then we shall dine early. how does that suit you?'
'very well yore grays' sed proodens. All thots of sir nikk and her mother flew from her hed, and her hart began beet lyk a drum.