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HOME > Classical Novels > The Shuttle50 > CHAPTER 31 NO, SHE WOULD NOT
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 Sir Nigel did not invite Rosalie to accompany them, when the next morning, after breakfast, he reminded Betty of his suggestion of the night before, that she should walk over the place with him, and show him what had been done. He preferred to make his study of his sister-in-law undisturbed.  
There was no detail whose significance he missed as they went about together. He had keen eyes and was a quite sufficiently1 practical person on such matters as concerned his own interests. In this case it was to his interest to make up his mind as to what he might gain or lose by the appearance of his wife's family. He did not mean to lose—if it could be helped—anything either of personal importance or material benefit. And it could only be helped by his comprehending clearly what he had to deal with. Betty was, at present, the chief factor in the situation, and he was sufficiently astute2 to see that she might not be easy to read. His personal theories concerning women presented to him two or three effective ways of managing them. You made love to them, you flattered them either subtly or grossly, you roughly or smoothly3 bullied4 them, or you harrowed them with haughty5 indifference—if your love-making had produced its proper effect—when it was necessary to lure6 or drive or trick them into submission7. Women should be made useful in one way or another. Little fool as she was, Rosalie had been useful. He had, after all was said and done, had some comparatively easy years as the result of her existence. But she had not been useful enough, and there had even been moments when he had wondered if he had made a mistake in separating her entirely8 from her family. There might have been more to be gained if he had allowed them to visit her and had played the part of a devoted9 husband in their presence. A great bore, of course, but they could not have spent their entire lives at Stornham. Twelve years ago, however, he had known very little of Americans, and he had lost his temper. He was really very fond of his temper, and rather enjoyed referring to it with tolerant regret as being a bad one and beyond his control—with a manner which suggested that the attribute was the inevitable10 result of strength of character and masculine spirit. The luxury of giving way to it was a great one, and it was exasperating11 as he walked about with this handsome girl to find himself beginning to suspect that, where she was concerned, some self-control might be necessary. He was led to this thought because the things he took in on all sides could only have been achieved by a person whose mind was a steadily12-balanced thing. In one's treatment of such a creature, methods must be well chosen. The crudest had sufficed to overwhelm Rosalie. He tried two or three little things as experiments during their walk.
The first was to touch with dignified13 pathos14 on the subject of Ughtred. Betty, he intimated gently, could imagine what a man's grief and disappointment might be on finding his son and heir deformed15 in such a manner. The delicate reserve with which he managed to convey his fear that Rosalie's own uncontrolled hysteric attacks had been the cause of the misfortune was very well done. She had, of course, been very young and much spoiled, and had not learned self-restraint, poor girl.
It was at this point that Betty first realised a certain hideous16 thing. She must actually remain silent—there would be at the outset many times when she could only protect her sister by refraining from either denial or argument. If she turned upon him now with refutation, it was Rosy17 who would be called upon to bear the consequences. He would go at once to Rosy, and she herself would have done what she had said she would not do—she would have brought trouble upon the poor girl before she was strong enough to bear it. She suspected also that his intention was to discover how much she had heard, and if she might be goaded18 into betraying her attitude in the matter.
But she was not to be so goaded. He watched her closely and her very colour itself seemed to be under her own control. He had expected—if she had heard hysteric, garbled19 stories from his wife—to see a flame of scarlet20 leap up on the cheek he was admiring. There was no such leap, which was baffling in itself. Could it be that experience had taught Rosalie the discretion21 of keeping her mouth shut?
“I am very fond of Ughtred,” was the sole comment he was granted. “We made friends from the first. As he grows older and stronger, his misfortune may be less apparent. He will be a very clever man.”
“He will be a very clever man if he is at all like——” He checked himself with a slight movement of his shoulders. “I was going to say a thing utterly22 banal23. I beg your pardon. I forgot for the moment that I was not talking to an English girl.”
It was so stupid that she turned and looked at him, smiling faintly. But her answer was quite mild and soft.
“Do not deprive me of compliments because I am a mere24 American,” she said. “I am very fond of them, and respond at once.”
“You are very daring,” he said, looking straight into her eyes—“deliciously so. American women always are, I think.”
“The young devil,” he was saying internally. “The beautiful young devil! She throws one off the track.”
He found himself more and more attracted and exasperated25 as they made their rounds. It was his sense of being attracted which was the cause of his exasperation26. A girl who could stir one like this would be a dangerous enemy. Even as a friend she would not be safe, because one faced the absurd peril27 of losing one's head a little and forgetting the precautions one should never lose sight of where a woman was concerned—the precautions which provided for one's holding a good taut28 rein29 in one's own hands.
They went from gardens to greenhouses, from greenhouses to stables, and he was on the watch for the moment when she would reveal some little feminine pose or vanity, but, this morning, at least, she laid none bare. She did not strike him as a being of angelic perfections, but she was very modern and not likely to show easily any openings in her armour30.
“Of course, I continue to be amazed,” he commented, “though one ought not to be amazed at anything which evolves from your extraordinary country. In spite of your impersonal31 air, I shall persist in regarding you as my benefactor32. But, to be frank, I always told Rosalie that if she would write to your father he would certainly put things in order.”
“She did write once, you will remember,” answered Betty.
“Did she?” with courteous34 vagueness. “Really, I am afraid I did not hear of it. My poor wife has her own little ideas about the disposal of her income.”
And Betty knew that she was expected to believe that Rosy had hoarded35 the money sent to restore the place, and from sheer weak miserliness had allowed her son's heritage to fall to ruin. And but for Rosy's sake, she might have stopped upon the path and, looking at him squarely, have said, “You are lying to me. And I know the truth.”
He continued to converse36 amiably37.
“Of course, it is you one must thank, not only for rousing in the poor girl some interest in her personal appearance, but also some interest in her neighbours. Some women, after they marry and pass girlhood, seem to release their hold on all desire to attract or retain friends. For years Rosalie has given herself up to a chronic38 semi-invalidism. When the mistress of a house is always depressed39 and languid and does not return visits, neighbours become discouraged and drop off, as it were.”
If his wife had told stories to gain her sympathy his companion would be sure to lose her temper and show her hand. If he could make her openly lose her temper, he would have made an advance.
“One can quite understand that,” she said. “It is a great happiness to me to see Rosy gaining ground every day. She has taken me out with her a good many times, and people are beginning to realise that she likes to see them at Stornham.”
“You are very delightful,” he said, “with your 'She has taken me out.' When I glanced at the magnificent array of cards on the salver in the hall, I realised a number of things, and quite vulgarly lost my breath. The Dunholms have been very amiable40 in recalling our existence. But charming Americans—of your order—arouse amiable emotions.”
“I am very amiable myself,” said Betty.
It was he who flushed now. He was losing patience at feeling himself held with such lightness at arm's length, and at being, in spite of himself, somehow compelled to continue to assume a jocular courtesy.
“No, you are not,” he answered.
“Not?” repeated Betty, with an incredulous lifting of her brows.
“You are charming and clever, but I rather suspect you of being a vixen. A............
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