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My Lady's Money

Chapter 20
THE day of the garden party arrived. There was no rain; but the air was heavy,
and the sky was overcast by lowering clouds.
Some hours before the guests were expected, Isabel arrived alone at the farm,
bearing the apologies of unfortunate Miss Pink, still kept a prisoner in her bed-
chamber by the asthma. In the confusion produced at the cottage by the
preparations for entertaining the company, the one room in which Hardyman
could receive Isabel with the certainty of not being interrupted was the smoking-
room. To this haven of refuge he led her--still reserved and silent, still not
restored to her customary spirits. "If any visitors come before the time,"
Hardyman said to his servant, "tell them I am engaged at the stables. I must have
an hour's quiet talk with you," he continued, turning to Isabel, "or I shall be in too
bad a temper to receive my guests with common politeness. The worry of giving
this party is not to be told in words. I almost wish I had been content with
presenting you to my mother, and had let the rest of my acquaintances go to the
devil."
A quiet half hour passed; and the first visitor, a stranger to the servants,
appeared at the cottage-gate. He was a middle-aged man, and he had no wish to
disturb Mr. Hardyman. "I will wait in the grounds," he said, "and trouble nobody."
The middle-aged man, who expressed himself in these modest terms, was
Robert Moody.
Five minutes later, a carriage drove up to the gate. An elderly lady got out of it,
followed by a fat white Scotch terrier, who growled at every stranger within his
reach. It is needless to introduce Lady Lydiard and Tommie.
Informed that Mr. Hardyman was at the stables, Lady Lydiard gave the servant
her card. "Take that to your master, and say I won't detain him five minutes."
 
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