The Nest of the Sparrowhawk HTML version
"I crave your pardon, mistress," she said peremptorily. "My interests pre-eminently
consist in being obeyed by those whom I pay for doing my behests. Now you and your
worthy husband live here rent free and derive a benefit of ten pounds every time our
guests assemble.... Well! in return for that, I make use of you and your names, in case of
any unpleasantness with the vigilance patrol ... or in case of a scandal which might reach
my Lord Protector's ears.... Up to this time your positions here have been a sinecure.... I
even bore the brunt of the last fracas whilst you remained practically scathless.... But to-
night, I own it, there may be some risks ... but of a truth you have been well paid to take
XVI. Rus In Urbe
One or two of the men looked up as de Chavasse entered, but no one took much
notice of him.
Most of those present remembered him from the past few years when still with
pockets well filled through having forestalled Lady Sue's maintenance money, he
was an habitual frequenter of some of the smart secret clubs in town; but here,
just the same as elsewhere, Sir Marmaduke was not a popular man, and many
there were who had unpleasant recollections of his surly temper and uncouth
ways, whenever fickle Fortune happened not to favor him.
Even now, he looked sullen and disagreeable as, having exchanged a significant
glance with his sister-in-law, he gave a comprehensive nod to the assembled
guests, which had nothing in it either of cordiality or of good-will. He touched
Editha's finger tips with his lips, and then advanced into the room.
Here he was met by Mistress Endicott, who had effectually thrown off the last
vestige of annoyance and of rebellion, for she greeted the newcomer with
marked good-humor and an encouraging smile.
"It is indeed a pleasure to see that Sir Marmaduke de Chavasse hath not forgot
old friends," she said pleasantly.
"It was passing kind, gracious mistress," he responded, forcing himself to speak
naturally and in agreeable tones, "to remember an insignificant country bumpkin
like myself ... and you see I have presumed on your lavish hospitality and
brought my young friend, Master Richard Lambert, to whom you extended so
gracious an invitation."
He turned to Lambert, who a little dazed to find himself in such brilliant company,
had somewhat timidly kept close to the heels of his employer. He thought
Mistress Endicott vulgar and overdressed the moment he felt bold enough to
raise his eyes to hers. But he chided himself immediately for thus daring to
criticize his betters.
His horizon so far had been very limited; only quite vaguely had he heard of town
and Court life. The little cottage where dwelt the old Quakeress who had brought
him and his brother up, and the tumble-down, dilapidated house of Sir
Marmaduke de Chavasse were the only habitations in which he was intimate.