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Chronicles of Clovis

The Stampeding Of Lady Bastable
"It would be rather nice if you would put Clovis up for another six days while I go up
north to the MacGregors'," said Mrs. Sangrail sleepily across the breakfast-table. It was
her invariable plan to speak in a sleepy, comfortable voice whenever she was unusually
keen about anything; it put people off their guard, and they frequently fell in with her
wishes before they had realized that she was really asking for anything. Lady Bastable,
however, was not so easily taken unawares; possibly she knew that voice and what it
betokened--at any rate, she knew Clovis.
She frowned at a piece of toast and ate it very slowly, as though she wished to convey the
impression that the process hurt her more than it hurt the toast; but no extension of
hospitality on Clovis's behalf rose to her lips.
"It would be a great convenience to me," pursued Mrs. Sangrail, abandoning the careless
tone. "I particularly don't want to take him to the MacGregors', and it will only be for six
days."
It will seem longer," said Lady Bastable dismally.
"The last time he stayed here for a week--"
"I know," interrupted the other hastily, "but that was nearly two years ago. He was
younger then."
"But he hasn't improved," said her hostess; "it's no use growing older if you only learn
new ways of misbehaving yourself."
Mrs. Sangrail was unable to argue the point; since Clovis had reached the age of
seventeen she had never ceased to bewail his irrepressible waywardness to all her circle
of acquaintances, and a polite scepticism would have greeted the slightest hint at a
prospective reformation. She discarded the fruitless effort at cajolery and resorted to
undisguised bribery.
"If you'll have him here for these six days I'll cancel that outstanding bridge account."
It was only for forty-nine shillings, but Lady Bastable loved shillings with a great, strong
love. To lose money at bridge and not to have to pay it was one of those rare experiences
which gave the card-table a glamour in her eyes which it could never otherwise have
possessed. Mrs. Sangrail was almost equally devoted to her card winnings, but the
prospect of conveniently warehousing her offspring for six days, and incidentally saving
his railway fare to the north, reconciled her to the sacrifice; when Clovis made a belated
appearance at the breakfast-table the bargain had been struck.
 
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