Man and Wife
Close On It
THE object of the invasion of the library by the party in the garden appeared to be
Sir Patrick had entered the room to restore the newspaper to the place from which he had
taken it. The guests, to the number of five, had followed him, to appeal in a body to
Geoffrey Delamayn. Between these two apparently dissimilar motives there was a
connection, not visible on the surface, which was now to assert itself.
Of the five guests, two were middle-aged gentlemen belonging to that large, but
indistinct, division of the human family whom the hand of Nature has painted in
unobtrusive neutral tint. They had absorbed the ideas of their time with such receptive
capacity as they possessed; and they occupied much the same place in society which the
chorus in an opera occupies on the stage. They echoed the prevalent sentiment of the
moment; and they gave the solo-talker time to fetch his breath.
The three remaining guests were on the right side of thirty. All profoundly versed in
horse-racing, in athletic sports, in pipes, beer, billiards, and betting. All profoundly
ignorant of every thing else under the sun. All gentlemen by birth, and all marked as such
by the stamp of "a University education." They may be personally described as faint
reflections of Geoffrey; and they may be numerically distinguished (in the absence of all
other distinction) as One, Two, and Three.
Sir Patrick laid the newspaper on the table and placed himself in one of the comfortable
arm-chairs. He was instantly assailed, in his domestic capacity, by his irrepressible sister-
in-law. Lady Lundie dispatched Blanche to him with the list of her guests at the dinner.
"For your uncle's approval, my dear, as head of the family."
While Sir Patrick was looking over the list, and while Arnold was making his way to
Blanche, at the back of her uncle's chair, One, Two, and Three--with the Chorus in
attendance on them--descended in a body on Geoffrey, at the other end of the room, and
appealed in rapid succession to his superior authority, as follows:
"I say, Delamayn. We want You. Here is Sir Patrick running a regular Muck at us. Calls
us aboriginal Britons. Tells us we ain't educated. Doubts if we could read, write, and
cipher, if he tried us. Swears he's sick of fellows showing their arms and legs, and seeing
which fellow's hardest, and who's got three belts of muscle across his wind, and who
hasn't, and the like of that. Says a most infernal thing of a chap. Says--because a chap
likes a healthy out-of-door life, and trains for rowing and running, and the rest of it, and
don't see his way to stewing over his books--therefore he's safe to commit all the crimes
in the calendar, murder included. Saw your name down in the newspaper for the Foot-
Race; and said, when we asked him if he'd taken the odds, he'd lay any odds we liked
against you in the other Race at the University--meaning, old boy, your Degree. Nasty,
that about the Degree--in the opinion of Number One. Bad taste in Sir Patrick to rake up
what we never mention among ourselves--in the opinion of Number Two. Un-English to
sneer at a man in that way behind his back--in the opinion of Number Three. Bring him to
book, Delamayn. Your name's in the papers; he can't ride roughshod over You."
The two choral gentlemen agreed (in the minor key) with the general opinion. "Sir
Patrick's views are certainly extreme, Smith?" "I think, Jones, it's desirable to hear Mr.
Delamayn on the other side."