CANADA. Wasn't it? So glad I was wrong.
WALES. We're all of us looking out for lords in disguise, now. Can't you give us a tip, dear, how to tell 'em?
SCOTLAND. Sukey has broken it off with her boy. Found he was mixed up in trade.
STRAITS SETTLEMENTS [as before, unseen at back of crowd]. No. I didn't. 'Twas his moral character.
Then enter Honoria with glasses on a tray; Ernest with champagne; Jane with eatables; Bennet with a napkin. It is a grim procession. The girls are scattered, laughing, talking: Africa to the Misses Wetherell; a couple to Dr. Freemantle. England, Scotland, Wales, and Canada are with Fanny. The hubbub, with the advent of the refreshments, increases. There is a general movement towards the refreshments.
FANNY. Thanks, Bennet. You can clear away a corner of the desk.
ENGLAND [aside to her]. Go easy with it, dear. [Fanny, smiling, nods. She directs operations in a low tone to the Bennets, who take her orders in grim silence and with lips tight shut.] Don't forget, girls, that we've got to get back to-night. [Aside to the Doctor, who has come forward to help.] Some of 'em, you know, ain't used to it.
DR. FREEMANTLE [nods]. Glasses not TOO full. [He whispers to Fanny.]
IRELAND [a decided young woman]. How much time have we got?
ENGLAND. Don't ask me. It's Judy's show.
WALES [mimicking Newte]. The return train, ladies, leaves Oakham station. [Stops—she is facing the clock. She begins to laugh.]
ENGLAND. What's the matter?
WALES [still laughing]. We've got just quarter of an hour to catch it.
There is a wild rush for the refreshments. Jane is swept off her feet. Bennet's tray is upset.
ENGLAND. Quarter—! Oh, my Gawd! Here, tuck up your skirts, girls. We'll have to -
DR. FREEMANTLE. It's all right. You've got plenty of time, ladies. There's a train from Norton on the branch line at 5.33. Gets you into London at a quarter to nine.
ENGLAND. You're SURE?
DR. FREEMANTLE [he has his watch in his hand]. Quite sure. The station is only half a mile away.
ENGLAND. Don't let's miss it. Keep your watch in your 'and, there's a dear.
FANNY [her business is—and has been—to move quietly through the throng, making the girls welcome, talking, laughing with them, directing the servants—all in a lady's way. On the whole she does it remarkably well. She is offering a plate of fruit to Judy]. You're a nice acting manager, you are. [Judy laughs. Fanny finds herself in front of Ireland. She turns to England.] Won't you introduce us?
ENGLAND. I beg your pardon, dear. Of course, you don't know each other. Miss Tetsworth, our new Ireland, Lady Bantock. It is "Bantock," isn't it, dear?
FANNY. Quite right. It's a good little part, isn't it?
IRELAND. Well, depends upon what you've been used to.
ENGLAND. She's got talent, as I tell 'er. But she ain't you, dear. It's no good saying she is.
FANNY [hastening to smooth it over]. People always speak so well of us after we're gone. [Laughs.] You'll take another glass of champagne.
IRELAND. Thank you—you made a great success, they tell me, in the part.
FANNY. Oh, there's a deal of fluke about these things. You see, I had the advantage -
DR. FREEMANTLE [with watch still in his hand]. I THINK, ladies -
ENGLAND. Come on, girls.
A general movement.
FANNY. You must all come again—spend a whole day—some Sunday.
CANADA. Remember me to Vernon.
FANNY. He'll be so sorry to have -
ENGLAND [cutting in]. 'Ope we 'aven't upset you, dear. [She is bustling them all up.]
FANNY. Not at all. [She is kissing the girls.] It's been so good to see you all again.
ENGLAND. 'Urry up, girls, there's dears. [To Fanny] Good-bye, dear. [Kissing her.] We DO miss yer.
FANNY. I'm glad you do.
ENGLAND. Oh, it ain't the same show. [The others are crowding out of the door. She and Fanny are quite apart.] No chance of your coming back to it, I suppose? [A moment.] Well, there, you never know, do yer? Good-bye, dear. [Kisses her again.]
FANNY. Good-bye! [She stands watching them out. Bennet goes down with them. Ernest is busy collecting debris. Jane and Honoria stand one each side of the table, rigid, with set faces. After a moment Fanny goes to the open window. The voices of the girls below, crowding into the van, come up into the room. She calls down to them.] Good-bye. You've plenty of time. What? Yes, of course. [Laughs.] All right. Good-bye. [She turns, comes slowly back. She looks at Jane and Honoria, where they stand rigid. Honoria makes a movement with her shoulders—takes a step towards the door.] Honoria! [Honoria stops—slowly turns.] You can take away these glasses. Jane will help you.
Bennet has reappeared.
HONORIA. It's not my place -
FANNY. Your place is to obey my orders.
BENNET [his coolness seems to have deserted him. His voice is trembling]. Obey her ladyship's orders, both of you. Leave the rest to me. [Honoria and Jane busy themselves, with Ernest setting the room to rights.] May I speak with your ladyship?
BENNET. Alone, I mean.
FANNY. I see no need.
BENNET [her firmness takes him aback. He expected to find her defiance disappear with the cause of it. But pig-headed, as all Bennets, her opposition only drives him on]. Your ladyship is not forgetting the alternative?
The Misses Wetherell have been watching the argument much as the babes in the wood might have watched the discussion between the two robbers.
THE ELDER MISS WETHERELL [in terror]. Bennet! you're not going to give notice!
BENNET. What my duty may be, I shall be able to decide after I have spoken with her ladyship—alone.
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL. Dear! You will see him?
FANNY. I am sorry. I have not the time.
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL. No. Of course. [Appealing to Bennet for mercy] Her ladyship is tired. To-morrow -
FANNY [interrupting]. Neither to-morrow—nor any other day. [Vernon enters, followed by Newte. She advances to meet them.] You've just missed some old friends of yours. [She shakes hands with Newte.]
VERNON. So it seems. We were hoping to have been in time. [To Newte] The mare came along pretty slick, didn't she?
BENNET [he has remained with his look fixed all the time on Fanny]. May I speak with your lordship a moment—in private?
BENNET. It is a matter that needs to be settled now. [It is the tone of respectful authority he has always used towards the lad.]
VERNON. Well, if it's as pressing as all that I suppose you must. [He makes a movement towards the door. To Newte] Shan't be long.
FANNY. One moment. [Vernon stops.] I may be able to render the interview needless. Who is mistress of this house?
VERNON. Who is mistress?
FANNY. Who is mistress of your house?
VERNON. Why, you are, of course.
FANNY. Thank you. [She turns to Bennet] Please tell Mrs. Bennet I want her.
BENNET. I think if your lordship -
FANNY. At once. [She is looking at him. He struggles—looks at Vernon. But Vernon is evidently inclined to support Fanny. Bennet goes out. She crosses and seats herself at the desk. She takes from a drawer some neatly folded papers. She busies herself with figures.]
VERNON [he crosses to his Aunts]. Whatever's the matter?
THE ELDER MISS WETHERELL. She is excited. She has had a very trying time.
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL. Bennet didn't like the idea of her receiving them.
NEWTE. It was that minx Judy's doing. They'll have the rough side of my tongue when I get back—all of them.
VERNON. What does she want with Mrs. Bennet?
THE ELDER MISS WETHERELL. I can't think.
The atmosphere is somewhat that of a sheepfold before a thunderstorm. The Misses Wetherell are still clinging to one another. Vernon and Dr. Freemantle are both watching Fanny. Jane, Honoria, and Ernest are still busy about the room.
Suddenly, to Newte—who is standing apart—the whole thing comes with a rush. But it is too late for him to interfere.
Mrs. Bennet, followed by Bennet, are entering the room. He shrugs his shoulders and turns away.
MRS. BENNET. Your ladyship sent for me?
FANNY. Yes. [She half turns—holds out a paper.] This wages sheet is quite correct, I take it? It is your own.
MRS. BENNET [she takes it]. Quite correct.
FANNY [she tears out a cheque she has written—hands it to Mrs. Bennet]. You will find there two months' wages for the entire family. I have made it out in a lump sum payable to your husband. The other month is in lieu of notice. [A silence. The thing strikes them all dumb. She puts the cheque-book back and closes the drawer. She rises.] I'm sorry. There's been a misunderstanding. It's time that it ended. It has been my own fault. [To Vernon] I deceived you about my family -
NEWTE. If there's been any deceit -
FANNY. My scene, please, George. [Newte, knowing her, returns to silence.] I have no relations outside this country that I know of. My uncle is Martin Bennet, your butler. Mrs. Bennet is my aunt. I'm not ashamed of them. If they'd had as much respect for me as I have for them, this trouble would not have arisen. We don't get on together, that's all. And this seems to me the only way out. As I said before, I'm sorry.
VERNON [recovering speech]. But why did you—?
FANNY [her control gives way. She breaks out]. Oh, because I've been a fool. It's the explanation of most people's muddles, I expect, if they only knew it. Don't talk to me, anybody. I've got nothing more to say. [To Bennet] I'm sorry. You wouldn't give me a chance. I'd have met you half way. [To Mrs. Bennet] I'm sorry. Don't be too hard on me. It won't mean much trouble to you. Good servants don't go begging. You can depend upon me for a character. [To Jane] You'll do much better for yourselves elsewhere. [To Honoria] Don't let that pretty face of yours ever get you into trouble. [To Ernest] Good-bye, Ernest. We were always pals, weren't we? Good-bye. [She kisses him. It has all been the work of a moment. She comes down again.] Don't think me rude, but I'd like to be alone. We can talk calmly about it all to-morrow morning. [To the Misses Wetherell] I'm so awfully sorry. I wish I could have seen any other way out. [The tears are streaming from her eyes. To Vernon] Take them all away, won't you, dear? We'll talk about it all to-morrow. I'll feel gooder. [She kisses him. To Dr. Freemantle] Take them all away. Tell him it wasn't all my fault. [To Newte] You'll have to stop the night. There are no more trains. I'll see you in the morning. Good night.
Bennet has collected his troop. Leads them away. Dr. Freemantle, kindly and helpful, takes off Vernon and the two ladies.
NEWTE [he grips her hand, and speaks in his short, growling way]. Good night, old girl. [He follows the others out.]
FANNY [crosses towards the windows. Her chief business is dabbing her eyes. The door closes with a click. She turns. She puts her handkerchief away. She looks at the portrait of Constance, first Lady Bantock]. I believe it's what you've been telling me to do, all the time.
The same. The blinds are down. Ashes fill the grate.
Time.—Early the next morning.
The door opens softly. Newte steals in. He fumbles his way across to the windows, draws the blinds. The morning sun streams in. He listens—no one seems to be stirring. He goes out, returns immediately with a butler's tray, containing all things necessary for a breakfast and the lighting of a fire. He places the tray on table, throws his coat over a chair, and is on his knees busy lighting the fire, when enter the Misses Wetherell, clad in dressing-gowns and caps: yet still they continue to look sweet. They also creep in, hand in hand. The crouching Newte is hidden by a hanging fire- screen. They creep forward till the coat hanging over the chair catches their eye. They are staring at it as Robinson Crusoe might at the footprint, when Newte rises suddenly and turns. The Misses Wetherell give a suppressed scream, and are preparing for flight.
NEWTE [he stays them]. No call to run away, ladies. When a man's travelled—as I have—across America, in a sleeping-car, with a comic-opera troop, there's not much left for him to know. You want your breakfast! [He wheedles them to the table.] We'll be able to talk cosily—before anybody else comes.
They yield themselves. He has a way with him.
THE ELDER MISS WETHERELL. We haven't slept all night.
Newte answers with a sympathetic gesture. He is busy getting ready the breakfast.
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL. There's something we want to tell dear Vernon—before he says anything to Fanny.
THE ELDER MISS WETHERELL. It's something very important.
NEWTE. We'll have a cup of tea first—to steady our nerves.
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL. It's so important that we should tell him before he sees Fanny.
NEWTE. We'll see to it. [He makes the tea.] I fancy they're both asleep at present.
THE ELDER MISS WETHERELL. Poor boy!
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL. If she only hadn't -
Dr. Freemantle has entered.
DR. FREEMANTLE. I thought I heard somebody stirring -
NEWTE. Hush! [He indicates doors, the one leading to her ladyship's apartments, the other to his lordship's.]
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL [turning and greeting him]. It was so kind of you not to leave us last night.
THE ELDER MISS WETHERELL. We were so upset.
Dr. Freemantle pats their hands.
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL. We hope you slept all right.
DR. FREEMANTLE. Excellently. Shall be glad of a shave, that's all. [Laughs. Both he and Newte suggest the want of one.]
NEWTE [who has been officiating]. Help yourself to milk and sugar.
DR. FREEMANTLE [who has seated himself]. Have the Bennets gone?
NEWTE. Well, they had their notice all right.
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL [they have begun to cry]. It has been so wrong and foolish of us. We have never learnt to do anything for ourselves.
THE ELDER MISS WETHERELL. We don't even know where our things are.
DR. FREEMANTLE. They can't all have gone—the whole twenty-three of them, at a couple of hours' notice. [To Newte] Haven't seen any of them, have you?
NEWTE. No sign of any of them downstairs.
DR. FREEMANTLE. Oh, they must be still here. Not up, I suppose. It isn't seven o'clock yet.
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL. But they have all been discharged. We can't ask them to do anything.
THE ELDER MISS WETHERELL [to her sister]. And the Grimstones are coming to lunch with the new curate. Vernon asked them on Sunday.
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL. Perhaps there's something cold.
THE ELDER MISS WETHERELL. Vernon so dislikes a cold lunch.
DR. FREEMANTLE [to Newte]. Were you able to get hold of Vernon last night?
NEWTE. Waited up till he came in about two o'clock. Merely answered that he wasn't in a talkative mood—brushed past me and locked himself in.
DR. FREEMANTLE. He wouldn't say anything to me either. Rather a bad sign when he won't talk.
NEWTE. What's he likely to do?
DR. FREEMANTLE. Don't know. Of course it will be all over the county.
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL. And dear Vernon is so sensitive.
DR. FREEMANTLE. It had to come—the misfortune IS -
NEWTE. The misfortune IS that people won't keep to their own line of business. Why did he want to come fooling around her? She was doing well for herself. She could have married a man who would have thought more of her than all the damn fools in the county put together. Why couldn't he have left her alone?
DR. FREEMANTLE [he is sitting at the head of the table, between Newte on his right and the Misses Wetherell on his left. He lays his hand on Newte's sleeve—with a smile]. I'm sure you can forgive a man— with eyes and ears in his head—for having fallen in love with her.
NEWTE. Then why doesn't he stand by her? What if her uncle is a butler? If he wasn't a fool, he'd be thanking his stars that 'twas anything half as respectable.
DR. FREEMANTLE. I'm not defending him—we're not sure yet that he needs any defence. He has married a clever, charming girl of—as you say—a better family than he'd any right to expect. The misfortune is, that—by a curious bit of ill-luck—it happens to be his own butler.
NEWTE. If she takes my advice, she'll return to the stage. No sense stopping where you're not wanted.
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL. But how can she?
THE ELDER MISS WETHERELL. You see, they're married!
DR. FREEMANTLE [to change the subject]. You'll take an egg?
Newte has been boiling some. He has just served them.
THE ELDER MISS WETHERELL [rejecting it]. Thank you.
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL. We're not feeling hungry.
THE ELDER MISS WETHERELL. He was so fond of her.
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL. She was so pretty.
THE ELDER MISS WETHERELL. And so thoughtful.
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL. One would never have known she was an actress.
THE ELDER MISS WETHERELL. If only she hadn't -
Bennet has entered. Newte is at fireplace. The old ladies have their backs to the door. Dr. Freemantle, who is pouring out tea, is the first to see him. He puts down the teapot, staring. The old ladies look round. A silence. Newte turns. Bennet is again the perfect butler. Yesterday would seem to have been wiped out of his memory.
BENNET. Good morning, Miss Wetherell. Good morning, Miss Edith. [To the two men] Good morning. I was not aware that breakfast was required to be any earlier than usual, or I should have had it ready.
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL. We are sure you would, Bennet. But you see, under the circumstances, we—we hardly liked to trouble you.
BENNET [he goes about the room, putting things to rights. He has rung the bell. Some dead flowers he packs on to Newte's tray, the water he pours into Newte's slop-basin]. My duty, Miss Edith, I have never felt to be a trouble to me.
THE ELDER MISS WETHERELL. We know, Bennet. You have always been so conscientious. But, of course, after what's happened—[They are on the verge of tears again.]
BENNET [he is piling up the breakfast things]. Keziah requested me to apologise to you for not having heard your bell this morning. She will be ready to wait upon you in a very few minutes. [To the Doctor] You will find shaving materials, doctor, on your dressing- table.
DR. FREEMANTLE. Oh, thank you.
Ernest has entered, with some wood; he is going towards the fire.
BENNET [to Ernest]. Leave the fire for the present. Take away this tray. [Ernest takes up the tray, and goes out. Bennet speaks over the heads of the Misses Wetherell to Newte] Breakfast will be ready in the morning-room, in a quarter of an hour.
NEWTE [at first puzzled, then indignant, now breaks out]. What's the little game on here—eh? Yesterday afternoon you were given the sack—by your mistress, Lady Bantock, with a month's wages in lieu of notice—not an hour before you deserved it. What do you mean, going on like this, as if nothing had happened? Is Lady Bantock to be ignored in this house as if she didn't exist—or is she not? [He brings his fist down on the table. He has been shouting rather than speaking.] I want this thing settled!
BENNET. Your bath, Mr. Newte, is quite ready.
NEWTE [as soon as he can recover speech]. Never you mind my bath, I want -
Vernon has entered. He is pale, heavy-eyed, short in his manner, listless.
VERNON. Good morning—everybody. Can I have some breakfast, Bennet?
BENNET. In about ten minutes; I will bring it up here. [He collects the kettle from the fire as he passes, and goes out.]
VERNON. Thank you. [He responds mechanically to the kisses of his two aunts, who have risen and come to him.]
NEWTE. Can I have a word with you?
VERNON. A little later on, if you don't mind, Mr. Newte. [He passes him.]
NEWTE [he is about to speak, changes his mind]. All right, go your own way. [Goes out.]
DR. FREEMANTLE. "Remember", says Marcus Aurelius -
VERNON. Yes—good old sort, Marcus Aurelius. [He drops listlessly into a chair.]
Dr. Freemantle smiles resignedly, looks at the Misses Wetherell, shrugs his shoulders, and goes out, closing the door after him.
The Misses Wetherell whisper together—look round cautiously, steal up behind him, encouraging one another.
THE ELDER MISS WETHERELL. She's so young.
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL. And so adaptable.
VERNON [he is sitting, bowed down, with his face in his hands]. Ah, it was the deception.
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL [she puts her old thin hand on his shoulder]. What would you have done, dear, if she had told you—at first?
VERNON [he takes her hand in his—answers a little brokenly]. I don't know.
THE ELDER MISS WETHERELL. There's something we wanted to tell you. [He looks at her. They look across at each other.] The first Lady Bantock, your great-grandmamma -
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL. She danced with George III.
THE ELDER MISS WETHERELL. She was a butcher's daughter.
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL. He was quite a little butcher.
THE ELDER MISS WETHERELL. Of course, as a rule, dear, we never mention it.
THE YOUNGER MISS WETHERELL. We felt you ought to know. [They take each other's hands; on tip-toe they steal out. They close the door softly behind them.]
Vernon rises. He looks at the portrait—draws nearer to it. With his hands in his pockets, stops dead in front of it, and contemplates it in silence. The door of the dressing-room opens. Fanny enters. She is dressed for going out. She stands for a moment, the door in her hand. Vernon turns. She closes the door and comes forward.
VERNON. Good morning.
FANNY. Good morning. George stayed the night, didn't he?
VERNON. Yes. He's downstairs now.
FANNY. He won't be going for a little while?
VERNON. Can't till the ten o'clock train. Have you had breakfast?
FANNY. I—I've had something to eat. I'm sorry for what I did last night—although they did deserve it. [Laughs.] I suppose it's a matter than can easily be put right again.
VERNON. You have no objection to their staying?
FANNY. Why should I?
VERNON. What do you mean?
FANNY. There's only one hope of righting a mistake. And that is going back to the point from where one went wrong—and that was our marriage.
VERNON. We haven't given it a very long trial.
FANNY [with an odd smile]. It went to pieces at the first. I was in trouble all last night; you must have known it. You left me alone.
VERNON. Jane told me you had locked yourself in.
FANNY. You never tried the door for yourself, dear. [She pretends to rearrange something on the mantelpiece—any excuse to turn away her face for a moment. She turns to him again, smiling.] It was a mistake, the whole thing. You were partly to blame. You were such a nice boy. I "fancied" you—to use George's words. [She laughs.] And when a woman wants a thing, she is apt to be a bit unscrupulous about how she gets it. [She moves about the room, touching the flowers, rearranging a cushion, a vase.] I didn't invent the bishop; that was George's embroidery. [Another laugh.] But, of course, I ought to have told you everything myself. I ought not to have wanted a man to whom it would have made one atom of difference whether my cousins were scullery-maids or not. Somehow, I felt that to you it might. [Vernon winces.] It's natural enough. You have a big position to maintain. I didn't know you were a lord—that was your doing. George did find it out, but he never told me; least of all, that you were Lord Bantock—or you may be pretty sure I should have come out with the truth, if only for my own sake. It hasn't been any joke for me, coming back here.
VERNON. Yes. I can see they've been making things pretty hard for you.
FANNY. Oh, they thought they were doing their duty. [He is seated. She comes up behind him, puts her hands on his shoulders.] I want you to take them all back again. I want to feel I have made as little commotion in your life as possible. It was just a little mistake. And everybody will say how fortunate it was that she took herself off so soon with that—[She was about to say "that theatrical Johnny," thinking of Newte. She checks herself.] And you will marry somebody belonging to your own class. And those are the only sensible marriages there are.
VERNON. Have you done talking?
FANNY. Yes! Yes, I think that's all.
VERNON. Then perhaps you'll let me get in a word. You think me a snob? [Fanny makes a movement.] As a matter of fact, I am.
FANNY. No, that's not fair. You wouldn't have married a girl off the music-hall stage.
VERNON. Niece of a bishop, cousin to a judge. Whether I believed it or not, doesn't matter. The sham that isn't likely to be found out is as good as the truth, to a snob. If he had told me your uncle was a butler, I should have hesitated. That's where the mistake began. We'll go back to that. Won't you sit down? [Fanny sits.] I want you to stop. There'll be no mistake this time. I'm asking my butler's niece to do me the honour to be my wife.
FANNY. That's kind of you.
VERNON. Oh, I'm not thinking of you. I'm thinking of myself. I want you. I fell in love with you because you were pretty and charming. There's something else a man wants in his wife besides that. I've found it. [He jumps up, goes over to her, brushing aside things in his way.] I'm not claiming it as a right; you can go if you like. You can earn your own living, I know. But you shan't have anybody else. You'll be Lady Bantock and nobody else—as long as I live. [He has grown quite savage.]
FANNY [she bites her lip to keep back the smile that wants to come]. That cuts both ways, you know.
VERNON. I don't want anybody else.
FANNY [she stretches out her hand and lays it on his]. Won't it be too hard for you? You'll have to tell them all—your friends— everybody.
VERNON. They've got to be told in any case. If you are here, for them to see, they'll be able to understand—those that have got any sense.
Bennet comes in with breakfast, for two, on a tray. He places it on a table.
FANNY [she has risen, she goes over to him]. Good morning, uncle. [She puts up her face. He stares, but she persists. Bennet kisses her.] Lord Bantock—[she looks at Vernon]—has a request to make to you. He wishes me to remain here as his wife. I am willing to do so, provided you give your consent.
VERNON. Quite right, Bennet. I ought to have asked for it before. I apologise. Will you give your consent to my marriage with your niece?
FANNY. One minute. You understand what it means? From the moment you give it—if you do give it—I shall be Lady Bantock, your mistress.
BENNET. My dear Fanny! My dear Vernon! I speak, for the first and last time, as your uncle. I am an old-fashioned person, and my ideas, I have been told, are those of my class. But observation has impressed it upon me that success in any scheme depends upon each person being fit for their place. Yesterday, in the interests of you both, I should have refused my consent. To-day, I give it with pleasure, feeling sure I am handing over to Lord Bantock a wife in every way fit for her position. [Kissing her, he gives her to Vernon, who grips his hand. He returns to the table.] Breakfast, your ladyship, is quite ready.
They take their places at the table. Fanny takes off her hat, Bennet takes off the covers.