Pearl Of Pearl Island - novelonlinefull.com
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"I would not listen. I would order them to put you out--to carry you out, if necessary, for making dis-turb-ance in my church. I would tell them to sit on you in the churchyard till the wedding was over. What good would you do? Ach, non! Be advised, my good sir, and re-linquish any such in-tention. It will ac-complish nothing and only lead to your own con-fusion."
"My father is applying to have Miss Brandt made a ward in Chancery--"
"By that time she will be Mrs. Graeme, and I am sure very happy,"
shrugged the Vicar. "Non--you can do nothing, and, if you will be guided, you will not try."
And Charles Svendt lapsed into thoughtfulness.
"This is the Seigneurie," said Graeme, as they turned off the road, through the latched gate, into the deep-shaded avenue.
The Seigneur came to them in the Long Drawing-Room, where once upon a time the peac.o.c.ks danced on the Queen's luncheon.
"Your time is getting short, Mr. Graeme," he said, with a quiet smile.
"I hear of great doings in preparation at St. Magloire"--which was the official t.i.tle of the Red House. "Have you given the doctor fair warning?"
"Oh, we'll try to keep them within bounds, Seigneur. My friend, Mr.
Pixley here,"--the Seigneur made Mr. Pixley a seigneurial bow,--"has it in his mind to stop the proceedings if he can--"
"Oh?" said the Seigneur, with a glower of surprise. "And why?"
"Well, you see," said Pixley, "Miss Brandt is under age. She is my father's ward and he has other views for her--"
"Which obviously do not agree with Miss Brandt's."
"That is as it may be. But she is acting absolutely in opposition to his expressed wishes in this matter, and until she is of age she is under his authority."
"Just as far as he is in position to exert it, I presume."
"He is now applying to have her made a ward in Chancery, when, of course, she will be under the jurisdiction of the court."
"If you come to me, Mr. Pixley, when Miss Brandt is a ward of court, I will tell you now what my answer would be. I should tell you that your English court has no jurisdiction here. Miss Brandt is out of bounds and is quite free to do as she pleases. I have had the pleasure of making her acquaintance and Mr. Graeme's, and I should be sorry--for you--if you did anything to annoy them. In fact--" and he looked so fixedly at Charles Svendt, while evidently revolving some extreme idea in his mind, that that young gentleman's a.s.surance fell several degrees, and he found himself thinking of dungeons and deportation.
It was to Graeme, however, that the Seigneur turned.
"If you have any reason to fear annoyance in this matter, Mr. Graeme, perhaps you will let me know as early as possible, and I will take measures--"
"Thousand thanks, Seigneur! Mr. Pixley will, I hope, think better of it. If not--well, I will send you word."
Pixley was very silent as they walked back along the road to the Red House.
The ladies had tea ready on the verandah.
"Well, Charles," said Margaret, as he bowed before them, and Graeme nodded and smiled rea.s.suringly at her over his back, "I won't pretend that I'm glad to see you. Why did you undertake so foolish an errand?"
"Perhaps Mr. Pixley could hardly help himself," said Miss Penny, sympathising somewhat with the awkwardness of his position.
"That is so," he said, with a grateful glance at her. "You see, the governor is crazy wild over this matter. It was only Sunday night he heard of it. A friend of young Greatorex wrote him that he'd heard your banns put up, and Greatorex congratulated the governor after church, and the governor nearly had a fit. He came over to my place like a whirlwind and practically ordered me to come across instanter and stop it. I may say," he said, looking at Margaret, "I tried to reason with him. I told him he must know that if you'd gone that length I was out of it, and nothing he could do would alter matters.
But he would not hear a word. He simply raved until I promised to come over by first boat and see what could be done."
"You've only done your duty, Mr. Pixley," said Miss Penny. "But you simply can't stop it, so is it any good making any trouble? Put it on the highest grounds. You have had warmer feelings for Meg than she could reciprocate. You can possibly make some disturbance at her wedding, which would be painful to her and utterly useless to yourself. Is it worth while?"
"No, I'm dem--er--hanged if it is! I see I can do no good, and I'll be hammered if I'll play dog in the manger, even to oblige the governor.
It's a disappointment to me, you know,"--he was looking at Miss Penny's bright face, surcharged with deepest sympathy.
"Of course it is," she said gently. "But a strong man bears his disappointments without wincing. I think you're acting n.o.bly."
"Say, Graeme, will you have me as best man?"
"Delighted, my dear fellow. Miss Penny has been breaking her heart at thought of having no partner at the ceremony."
"Right! Then we'll say no more about it. How did you all come to meet here? Put-up job?"
"Not a bit of it," said Graeme. "Pure coincidence--or Providence, we'll say. You remember that Whitefriars' dinner, when Adam Black sat opposite to us? He was just back from Sark, and he said, 'If ever you want relief from your fellows--try Sark.' Well, later on, I had no reason to believe there was anything between you and Margaret, and I called on your father at his office. He sliced me into sc.r.a.ps with his eye-gla.s.s and flung the bits out into Lincoln's Inn,"--at which Charles Svendt grinned amusedly, as though he were familiar with the process.--"I wanted to get away somewhere to piece up again. Sark came into my head, and I came. A month later my landlady told me she had let my rooms to two ladies, as she had understood I was only stopping for a month, and I had to turn out and come up here. And, to my vast amazement, the two ladies proved to be Margaret and Miss Penny. How is that for coincidence?"
"I was standing in the hedge there," said Margaret, "early in the morning of the day after we got here, and Jock came leaping over the d.y.k.e there with a great brown dog, and stopped as if he'd been shot--"
"I thought you were a ghost, you see."
"And I couldn't believe my eyes. Then I asked him what he meant by following us here, and it turned out that it was we who had followed him, and turned him out of his cottage moreover."
"Deuced odd!" said Charles Svendt, s.c.r.e.w.i.n.g in his eye-gla.s.s and regarding them comprehensively. "Almost makes one believe in--er--"
"Telepathy and that kind of thing," said Miss Penny.
"Er--exactly--just so, don't you know!" and his glance rested on her with appreciation as upon a kindred soul.
Charles Svendt dined with them that evening, and in the process developed heights and depths of genial common-sense which quite surprised some among them.
They took him for a stroll up to the Eperquerie in the cool of the gloaming, and showed him more shooting stars than ever he had seen in his life, and a silver sickle of a moon, and a western sky still smouldering with the afterglow of a crimson and amber sunset, and he acknowledged that, from some points of view, Sark had advantages over Throgmorton Street.
In the natural course of things, Margaret and Graeme walked together, and since they could not go four abreast among the gorse cushions, Charles Svendt and Miss Penny had to put up with one another, and seemed to get on remarkably well. More than once Graeme squeezed Margaret's arm within his own and chuckled, as he heard the animated talk and laughter from the pair behind.
"I'm very glad he's taken a sensible view of the matter," said Margaret.
"Oh, Charles Svendt is no fool, and he certainly would have been if he'd done anything but what he has done. He saw that he could do no good and might get into trouble. The Seigneur scowled dungeons and gibbets at him, and he looked decidedly uncomfortable."
"I will tender the Seigneur my very best thanks the first time I see him."
When the men had seen the ladies home, they strolled up the garden to the Red House for a final smoke.