Chapter 10: Cecil as a Humourist
He looked very attractive when his face was bright, and he
dispelled her ridiculous forebodings at once.
"I have heard," she said. "Freddy has told us. Naughty Cecil! I
suppose I must forgive you. Just think of all the trouble I took
for nothing! Certainly the Miss Alans are a little tiresome, and
I'd rather have nice friends of yours. But you oughtn't to tease
"Friends of mine?" he laughed. "But, Lucy, the whole joke is to
come! Come here." But she remained standing where she was. "Do
you know where I met these desirable tenants? In the National
Gallery, when I was up to see my mother last week."
"What an odd place to meet people!" she said nervously. "I don't
"In the Umbrian Room. Absolute strangers. They were admiring Luca
Signorelli--of course, quite stupidly. However, we got talking,
and they refreshed me not--a little. They had been to Italy."
"But, Cecil--" proceeded hilariously.
"In the course of conversation they said that they wanted a
country cottage--the father to live there, the son to run down
for week-ends. I thought, 'What a chance of scoring off Sir
Harry!' and I took their address and a London reference, found
they weren't actual blackguards--it was great sport--and wrote to
him, making out--"
"Cecil! No, it's not fair. I've probably met them before--"
He bore her down.
"Perfectly fair. Anything is fair that punishes a snob. That old
man will do the neighbourhood a world of good. Sir Harry is too
disgusting with his 'decayed gentlewomen.' I meant to read him a
lesson some time. No, Lucy, the classes ought to mix, and before
long you'll agree with me. There ought to be intermarriage--all
sorts of things. I believe in democracy--"
"No, you don't," she snapped. "You don't know what the word