The Nest of the Sparrowhawk HTML version

III. The Exile
But despite outward indifference, with the brief appearance of the soberly-garbed
young student upon the scene and his abrupt and silent departure, all the zest
seemed to have gone out of Lady Sue's mood.
The ingenuous flatteries of her little court irritated her now: she no longer felt
either amused or pleased by the extravagant compliments lavished upon her
beauty and skill by portly Squire John, by Sir Timothy Harrison or the more
diffident young Squire Pyncheon.
"Of a truth, I sometimes wish, Lady Sue, that I could find out if you have any
faults," remarked Squire Boatfield unctuously.
"Nay, Squire," she retorted sharply, "pray try to praise me to my female friends."
In vain did Mistress Pyncheon admonish her son to be more bold in his wooing.
"You behave like a fool, Oliver," she said meekly.
"But, Mother ..."
"Go, make yourself pleasing to her ladyship."
"But, Mother ..."
"I pray you, my son," she retorted with unusual acerbity, "do you want a million or
do you not?"
"But, Mother ..."
"Then go at once and get it, ere that fool Sir Timothy or the odious Boatfield
capture it under your very nose."
"But, Mother ..."
"Go! say something smart to her at once ... talk about your gray mare ... she is
over fond of horses ..."
Then as the young Squire, awkward and clumsy in his manner, more
accustomed to the company of his own servants than to that of highborn ladies,
made sundry unfortunate attempts to enchain the attention of the heiress, his
worthy mother turned with meek benignity to Sir Marmaduke.
"A veritable infatuation, good Sir Marmaduke," she said with a sigh, "quite
against my interests, you know. I had no thought to see the dear lad married so
soon, nor to give up my home at the Dene yet, in favor of a new mistress. Not but
that Oliver is not a good son to his mother--such a good lad!--and such a good
husband he would be to any girl who ..."
"A strange youth that secretary of yours, Sir Marmaduke," here interposed Dame
Harrison in her loud, dictatorial voice, breaking in on Mistress Pyncheon's
dithyrambs, "modest he appears to be, and silent too: a paragon meseems!"
She spoke with obvious sarcasm, casting covert glances at Lady Sue to see if
she heard.
Sir Marmaduke shrugged his shoulders.
"Lambert is very industrious," he said curtly.
"I thought secretaries never did anything but suck the ends of their pens,"
suggested Mistress Pyncheon mildly.