Sir George Tressady — Volume II

Produced by Andrew Templeton, Juliet Sutherland, Mary
Meehan, and Project Distributed Proofreaders






On a hot morning at the end of June, some four weeks after the Castle
Luton visit, George Tressady walked from Brook Street to Warwick Square,
that he might obtain his mother’s signature to a document connected with
the Shapetsky negotiations, and go on from there to the House of Commons.

She was not in the drawing-room, and George amused himself during his
minutes of waiting by inspecting the various new photographs of the
Fullerton family that were generally to be found on her table. What a
characteristic table it was, littered with notes and bills, with patterns
from every London draper, with fashion-books and ladies’ journals
innumerable! And what a characteristic room, with its tortured
decorations and crowded furniture, and the flattered portraits of Lady
Tressady, in every caprice of costume, which covered the walls! George
looked round it all with an habitual distaste; yet not without the secret
admission that his own drawing-room was very like it.

His mother might, he feared, have a scene in preparation for him.

For Letty, under cover of some lame excuse or other, had persisted in
putting off the visit which Lady Tressady had intended to pay them at
Ferth during the Whitsuntide recess, and since their return to town
there had been no meeting whatever between the two ladies. George,
indeed, had seen his mother two or three times. But even he had just let
ten days pass without visiting her. He supposed he should find her in a
mood of angry complaint; nor could he deny that there would be some
grounds for it.

“Good morning, George,” said a sharp voice, which startled him as he was
replacing a photograph of the latest Fullerton baby. “I thought you had
forgotten your way here by now.”

“Why, mother, I am very sorry,” he said, as he kissed her. “But I
have really been terribly busy, what with two Committees and this
important debate.”

“Oh! don’t make excuses, pray. And of course—for Letty—you won’t even
attempt it. I wouldn’t if I were you.”

Lady Tressady settled herself on a chair with her back to the light, and
straightened the ribbons on her dress with hasty fingers. Something in
her voice struck George. He looked at her closely.

“Is there anything wrong, mother? You don’t look very well.”

Lady Tressady got up hurriedly, and began to move about the room, picking
up a letter here, straightening a picture there. George felt a sudden
prick of alarm. Were there some new revelations in store for him? But
before he could speak she interrupted him.

“I should be very well if it weren’t for this heat,” she said pettishly.
“Do put that photograph down, George!—you do fidget so! Haven’t you got
any news for me—anything to amuse me? Oh! those horrid papers!—I see.
Well! they’ll wait a little. By the way, the ‘Morning Post’ says that
young scamp, Lord Ancoats, has gone abroad. I suppose that girl was
bought off.”

She sat down again in a shady corner, fanning herself vigorously.

“I am afraid I can’t tell you any secrets,” said George, smiling, “for I
don’t know any. But it looks as though Mrs. Allison and Maxwell between
them had somehow found a way out.”

“How’s the mother?”

“You see, she has gone abroad, too—to Bad Wildheim. In fact, Lord

Ancoats has taken her.”

“That’s the place for heart, isn’t it?” said his mother, abruptly.

“There’s a man there that cures everybody.”

“I believe so,” said George. “May we come to business, mother? I have
brought these papers for you to sign, and I must get to the House in
good time.”

Lady Tressady seemed to take no notice. She got up again, restlessly, and
walked to the window.

“How do you like my dress, George? Now, don’t imagine anything absurd!

Justine made it, and it was quite cheap.”

George could not help smiling—all the more that he was conscious of
relief. She would not be asking him to admire her dress if there were
fresh debts to confess to him.

“It makes you look wonderfully young,” he said, turning a critical eye,
first upon the elegant gown of some soft pinky stuff in which his mother
had arrayed herself, then upon the subtly rouged and powdered face above
it. “You are a marvellous person, mother! All the same, I think the heat
must have been getting hold of you, for your eyes are tired. Don’t racket
too much!”

He spoke with his usual careless kindness, laying a hand upon her arm.

Lady Tressady drew herself away, and, turning her back upon him, looked
out of the window.

“Have you seen any more of the Maxwells?” she said, over her shoulders.

George gave a slight involuntary start. Then it occurred to him that his
mother was making conversation in an odd way.

“Once or twice,” he said, reluctantly, in reply. “They were at the

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