The Hand of Ethelberta
32. A Room In Enckworth Court
'Are you sure the report is true?'
'I am sure that what I say is true, my lord; but it is hardly to
be called a report. It is a secret, known at present to nobody
but myself and Mrs. Doncastle's maid.'
The speaker was Lord Mountclere's trusty valet, and the
conversation was between him and the viscount in a
dressing-room at Enckworth Court, on the evening after the
meeting of archaeologists at Corvsgate Castle.
'H'm-h'm; the daughter of a butler. Does Mrs. Doncastle
know of this yet, or Mr. Neigh, or any of their friends?'
'No, my lord.'
'You are quite positive?'
'Quite positive. I was, by accident, the first that Mrs. Menlove
named the matter to, and I told her it might be much to her
advantage if she took particular care it should go no further.'
'Mrs. Menlove! Who's she?'
'The lady's-maid at Mrs. Doncastle's, my lord.'
'O, ah--of course. You may leave me now, Tipman.' Lord
Mountclere remained in thought for a moment. 'A clever little
puss, to hoodwink us all like this--hee-hee!' he murmured.
'Her education-- how finished; and her beauty--so seldom
that I meet with such a woman. Cut down my elms to please
a butler's daughter--what a joke- -certainly a good joke! To
interest me in her on the right side instead of the wrong was
strange. But it can be made to change sides--hee-hee!--it
can be made to change sides! Tipman!'
Tipman came forward from the doorway.
'Will you take care that that piece of gossip you mentioned to
me is not repeated in this house? I strongly disapprove of
talebearing of any sort, and wish to hear no more of this.
Such stories are never true. Answer me--do you hear? Such
stories are never true.'