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The Twelfth Hour By Ada Leverson Characters: 6779

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

"Hallo, Savile!" said Felicity, who was putting the last touch to her veil in front of the mirror. "Nice boy! You're just what I wanted. Come out with me!"

It was about twelve o'clock, a lovely warm morning. The first hum of the season was just beginning, like the big orchestra of London tuning up. There seemed a sort of suppressed excitement in the air. People of average spirits appeared unusually happy; the very highly strung seemed just a little wild; their eyes dancing, their tread lighter, and laughs were heard on the smallest provocation. Certainly the vision that met Felicity in the mirror was exhilarating enough. Dressed in the softest of blues, with a large brown hat on her golden hair, she looked like a pastel-a combination of the vagueness, remoteness, and delicacy of a Whistler with the concrete piquancy of a sketch in L'Art et La Mode.

Savile, however, showed none of the intoxicating effect of a gay London morning. He seemed more serious, more self-controlled, more correct even than usual.

"Where's Chetwode?" he asked.

"Oh, he's just going out, dear, I think. Do you want him? Shall I ring?"

"No; I shouldn't ring. What's the point of that except to delay my seeing him? No; I want to see him, so I'll go and look for him, and perhaps go out with him. I suppose you're driving, and don't need me?"

"Need you? Oh no, darling; not exactly. Only I thought it would be fun to go out and look at the people in the Row-and laugh at them. Besides, I always drive down Piccadilly and Bond Street when I have a new hat, to find out whether it suits me. It's such fun. I can always tell."

"Frightfully comic, no doubt, but I've got something more important to think about this morning."

"What a bad temper you're in, Savile! Anything wrong, darling?"

"Just like a girl!" said Savile. "I never yet showed any woman I had something to do that she didn't say I was in a bad temper."

Felicity laughed. He went to the door and added-

"Oh, by the way, don't trouble to give my love to Wilton."

She made a rush for him, and he ran out of the room.

He found Lord Chetwode, as usual, in the green library, not reading the newspapers, and reposefully smoking. Savile accepted a cigarette and sat down.

"Thought you were going out?" said Savile.

"Yes, so did I. But why go out? It's all right here. Besides, I am going out. No hurry."

"Good," said Savile, and they smoked in silence.

"You're not stopping in town long, are you?" said Savile.

"No, old boy. Season's beginning. I hate London. I'm going week-ending next Saturday."

"And you won't come back?"

"I shall probably stop ten days."

"I've got something to say to you," said Savile.

Lord Chetwode smiled encouragingly.

"Fire away!"

"There's something I want particularly to ask you."

There was a pause. Such a remark as this from any one but Savile would have alarmed Chetwode, suggesting something in the nature of a scene, but he felt pretty safe with his brother-in-law of sixteen. He wondered what on earth the boy wanted, and felt only good-humouredly amused. Savile had chosen his words before he came, and had that rash longing we all feel when we have made out a verbal programme, to make the suitable remark before the occasion arises.

"We're both men of the world," began Savile.

"Are we, though?" said Chetwode. "Please spare me this

irony! You're a man of the world all right, I know. I don't pretend to be."

"May as well come to the point," said Savile. "You know Woodville, don't you?"

"Woodville? Rather. Capital chap. What's wrong with him?"

"There's nothing wrong with him," said Savile, "but I want to get him something to do."

"Really? Doesn't he like being with you and Sir James and Sylvia, and all that?"

"Yes, he likes it all right. But he isn't much with Sylvia and all that. He'd like to be more. So would she-a good deal more. That's the point."

Chetwode instantly recollected the incident in the Park. He said without turning a hair, "Quite so. Most natural, I'm sure--" and then thought a moment. Savile was silent.

"What Woodville needs," said Chetwode, lighting another cigarette, "is, of course, less of you and Sir James, and a great deal more of Sylvia; and he can't very well marry her while he's her father's secretary. Though-by Jove!-I don't see why not!"

"What rot!" said Savile.

"Yes, you're right, Savile. It's true Sir James wouldn't give him a minute's time for anything. Well, you want me to get him something to do then?"

"Now, look here, Chetwode, don't play the fool about this. Here's a chap, considered a brilliant man at Oxford; in every way a thoroughly good sort, and a gentleman, who, if it weren't for circumstances, would have been called a good match."

"If it weren't for circumstances, anybody would be called a good match," said Chetwode casually.

"What sort of thing do you think you can get him?" asked Savile, "before Saturday?"

"Before Saturday? Well, what sort of thing does he want before Saturday?"

"Oh, something political. Or some post-or something diplomatic."

"You're pleased to be vague," said Chetwode, bowing.

"Oh, all right! Then you can't do it?" Savile stood up.

"Please, Savile, no violence! Take another cigarette. Of course, the idea is that I must talk to somebody. Perhaps Teignmouth--"

"Put the whole thing before him," said Savile.

"The beastly part is no one will stand being talked to about things, and everybody hates having the whole matter put before them-unless it's gossip. Then, by Jove, won't they go into details!"

Savile controlled his feelings, and said, "Well, here's a romantic story, a lovely girl-young man disinherited--"

Chetwode visibly shrank from the explicitness.

"All right, old boy. Look here, I see your point-I give you my word I'll try."

Savile, terrified at the thought that he might have been a bore, got up again and held out his hand.

"When will you let me know?"

"As soon as I've seen anybody or done anything that seems to help at all.... Let's see, what's your telephone number?"

"I haven't got any telephone number," said Savile, "at least, not on this subject. Won't kill you to wire and let me know when I can see you again."

"Good! that's the idea. And look here, Savile, you think I am not going to trouble, I can see that. But you happen to be wrong. I'll fix it up all right."

"I thought you would," said Savile.

"And we won't talk it over, don't you know, to-a-women or anything. Eh?"

"Catch me," said Savile.

"Well, I must go out now," said Chetwode. "Can I drop you?"

"Think I'll walk," said Savile.

They shook hands most cordially. Chetwode went out smiling to himself, and strolled towards the Club.

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