"Oh, Humphrey, I hope you liked it," cried Mrs. Pomfret. "Don't make the mistake of despising what women can do. They elected the Honourable Billy Aylestone--he said so himself. I'm getting all the women interested."
"Who've you been calling on now?" he inquired.
"I've been up at Fairview to see about Mrs. Flint. She isn't much better."
"Is Victoria home?" Mr. Crewe demanded, with undisguised interest.
"Poor dear girl!" said Mrs. Pomfret, "of course I wouldn't have mentioned the subject to her, but she wanted to know all about it. It naturally makes an awkward situation between you and her, doesn't it?"
"Oh, Victoria's level-headed enough," Mr. Crewe had answered; "I guess she knows something about old Flint and his methods by this time. At any rate, it won't make any difference with me," he added magnanimously, and threw in his clutch. He had encircled Fairview in his drive that day, and was, curiously enough, headed in that direction now. Slow to make up his mind in some things, as every eligible man must be, he was now coming rapidly to the notion that he might eventually decide upon Victoria as the most fitting mate for one in his position. Still, there was no hurry. As for going to Fairview House, that might be awkward, besides being open to misconstruction by his constituents. Mr. Crewe reflected, as he rushed up the hills, that he had missed Victoria since she had been abroad--and a man so continually occupied as he did not have time to miss many people. Mr. Crewe made up his mind he would encircle Fairview every day until he ran across her.
The goddess of fortune sometimes blesses the persistent even before they begin to persist--perhaps from sheer weariness at the remembrance of previous importuning. Victoria, on a brand-new and somewhat sensitive five-year-old, was coming out of the stone archway when Mr. Crewe (without any signal this time!) threw on his brakes. An exhibition of horsemanship followed, on Victoria's part, which Mr. Crewe beheld with admiration. The five-year-old swung about like a weathercock in a gust of wind, assuming an upright position, like the unicorn in the British coat of arms. Victoria cut him, and he came down on all fours and danced into the wire fence that encircled the Fairview domain, whereupon he got another stinging reminder that there was some one on his back.
"Bravo!" cried Mr. Crewe, leaning on the steering wheel and watching the performance with delight. Never, he thought, had Victoria been more appealing; strangely enough, he had not remembered that she was quite so handsome, or that her colour was so vivid; or that her body was so straight and long and supple. He liked the way in which she gave it to that horse, and he made up his mind that she would grace any position, however high. Presently the horse made a leap into the road in front of the motor and stood trembling, ready to bolt.