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|Round The Red Lamp||Arthur Conan Doyle|
A Question Of Diplomacy.
|Page 3 of 10||
"I did. That is, I and Ida."
"I will not have him brought into contact with Ida. I do not approve of it. The matter has gone too far already."
Lady Clara seated herself on a velvet-topped footstool, and bent her stately figure over the Minister's hand, which she patted softly between her own.
"Now you have said it, Charles," said she. "It has gone too far--I give you my word, dear, that I never suspected it until it was past all mending. I may be to blame--no doubt I am; but it was all so sudden. The tail end of the season and a week at Lord Donnythorne's. That was all. But oh! Charlie, she loves him so, and she is our only one! How can we make her miserable?"
"Tut, tut!" cried the Minister impatiently, slapping on the plush arm of his chair. "This is too much. I tell you, Clara, I give you my word, that all my official duties, all the affairs of this great empire, do not give me the trouble that Ida does."
"But she is our only one, Charles."
"The more reason that she should not make a mesalliance."
"Mesalliance, Charles! Lord Arthur Sibthorpe, son of the Duke of Tavistock, with a pedigree from the Heptarchy. Debrett takes them right back to Morcar, Earl of Northumberland."
The Minister shrugged his shoulders.
"Lord Arthur is the fourth son of the poorest duke in England," said he. "He has neither prospects nor profession."
"But, oh! Charlie, you could find him both."
"I do not like him. I do not care for the connection."
"But consider Ida! You know how frail her health is. Her whole soul is set upon him. You would not have the heart, Charles, to separate them?"
There was a tap at the door. Lady Clara swept towards it and threw it open.
"If you please, my lady, the Prime Minister is below."
"Show him up, Thomas."
"Now, Charlie, you must not excite yourself over public matters. Be very good and cool and reasonable, like a darling. I am sure that I may trust you."
She threw her light shawl round the invalid's shoulders, and slipped away into the bed-room as the great man was ushered in at the door of the dressing-room.
"My dear Charles," said he cordially, stepping into the room with all the boyish briskness for which he was famous, "I trust that you find yourself a little better. Almost ready for harness, eh? We miss you sadly, both in the House and in the Council. Quite a storm brewing over this Grecian business. The Times took a nasty line this morning."
"So I saw," said the invalid, smiling up at his chief. "Well, well, we must let them see that the country is not entirely ruled from Printing House Square yet. We must keep our own course without faltering."
"Certainly, Charles, most undoubtedly," assented the Prime Minister, with his hands in his pockets.
"It was so kind of you to call. I am all impatience to know what was done in the Council."
"Pure formalities, nothing more. By-the-way, the Macedonian prisoners are all right."
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|Round The Red Lamp
Arthur Conan Doyle
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