Beasts and Super-Beasts
The Forbidden Buzzards
"IS matchmaking at all in your line?"
Hugo Peterby asked the question with a certain amount of personal interest.
"I don't specialise in it," said Clovis; "it's all right while you're doing it, but the after-
effects are sometimes so disconcerting - the mute reproachful looks of the people you've
aided and abetted in matrimonial experiments. It's as bad as selling a man a horse with
half a dozen latent vices and watching him discover them piecemeal in the course of the
hunting season. I suppose you're thinking of the Coulterneb girl. She's certainly jolly, and
quite all right as far as looks go, and I believe a certain amount of money adheres to her.
What I don't see is how you will ever manage to propose to her. In all the time I've
known her I don't remember her to have stopped talking for three consecutive minutes.
You'll have to race her six times round the grass paddock for a bet, and then blurt your
proposal out before she's got her wind back. The paddock is laid up for hay, but if you're
really in love with her you won't let a consideration of that sort stop you, especially as it's
not your hay."
"I think I could manage the proposing part right enough," said Hugo, "if I could count on
being left alone with her for four or five hours. The trouble is that I'm not likely to get
anything like that amount of grace. That fellow Lanner is showing signs of interesting
himself in the same quarter. He's quite heartbreakingly rich and is rather a swell in his
way; in fact, our hostess is obviously a bit flattered at having him here. If she gets wind
of the fact that he's inclined to be attracted by Betty Coulterneb she'll think it a splendid
match and throw them into each other's arms all day long, and then where will my
opportunities come in? My one anxiety is to keep him out of the girl's way as much as
possible, and if you could help me - "
"If you want me to trot Lanner round the countryside, inspecting alleged Roman remains
and studying local methods of bee culture and crop raising, I'm afraid I can't oblige you,"
said Clovis. "You see, he's taken something like an aversion to me since the other night in
"What happened in the smoking-room?"
"He trotted out some well-worn chestnut as the latest thing in good stories, and I
remarked, quite innocently, that I never could remember whether it was George II. or
James II. who was so fond of that particular story, and now he regards me with politely-
draped dislike. I'll do my best for you, if the opportunity arises, but it will have to be in a
roundabout, impersonal manner."
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