Stories in Light and Shadow
The Desborough Connections
"Then it isn't a question of property or next of kin?" said the consul.
"Lord! no," said the lady vivaciously. "Why, goodness me! I reckon old
Desborough could, at any time before he died, have 'bought up' or 'bought out'
the whole lot of his relatives on this side of the big pond, no matter what they
were worth. No, it's only a matter of curiosity and just sociableness."
The American consul at St. Kentigorn felt much relieved. He had feared it was
only the old story of delusive quests for imaginary estates and impossible
inheritances which he had confronted so often in nervous wan-eyed enthusiasts
and obstreperous claimants from his own land. Certainly there was no
suggestion of this in the richly dressed and be-diamonded matron before him, nor
in her pretty daughter, charming in a Paris frock, alive with the consciousness of
beauty and admiration, and yet a little ennuye from gratified indulgence. He knew
the mother to be the wealthy widow of a New York millionaire, that she was
traveling for pleasure in Europe, and a chance meeting with her at dinner a few
nights before had led to this half-capricious, half-confidential appointment at the
"No," continued Mrs. Desborough; "Mr. Desborough came to America, when a
small boy, with an uncle who died some years ago. Mr. Desborough never
seemed to hanker much after his English relatives as long as I knew him, but
now that I and Sadie are over here, why we guessed we might look 'em up and
sort of sample 'em! 'Desborough' 's rather a good name," added the lady, with a
complacency that, however, had a suggestion of query in it.
"Yes," said the consul; "from the French, I fancy."
"Mr. Desborough was English—very English," corrected the lady.
"I mean it may be an old Norman name," said the consul.
"Norman's good enough for ME," said the daughter, reflecting. "We'll just settle it
as Norman. I never thought about that DES."
"Only you may find it called 'Debborough' here, and spelt so," said the consul,
Miss Desborough lifted her pretty shoulders and made a charming grimace.
"Then we won't acknowledge 'em. No Debborough for me!"