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The Twelfth Hour By Ada Leverson Characters: 6332

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

As Wilton was convinced that a satisfactory ending to the trouble was imminent, he naturally felt a great desire to be, somehow, the cause of Felicity's renewed happiness; to get, as it were, the credit of it. That his admiration (to put it mildly) should take the form of chivalrous devotion would be, at least, something; especially as it was evident that no other satisfaction was likely to come his way. Her one other confidant was Savile; and it struck Bertie that a kind of confederation with the boy might be a success.

Besides, it would be fun.... Savile hadn't ever been cordial with him, but had retained a rather cool, ironical manner, as if suspicious of his attitude. Bertie had that peculiar vanity that consists in an acute desire to be able to please everybody. He had always felt absurdly annoyed at being unable to gain Savile's approval. And the wish to make a conquest of every one connected with Her was no doubt part of his reason for sending Savile an urgent message to come and see him immediately.

He was now waiting in his rooms at Half-Moon Street for the boy's arrival.

Savile had promised to come round in a reserved and cautious note, but the request had given him intense gratification and joy. He felt he really was becoming a person of importance.

The instant Savile arrived he made up his mind that as soon as he was grown up and able to have rooms of his own, they should be arranged, in every particular, exactly like Wilton's. But instead of the Romney, the one picture that Bertie possessed, and which bore so striking a likeness to Felicity, he decided he would have in its place a large portrait of Madame Patti.

"Look here, old boy, perhaps you think this rather cheek of me. But we both know that your sister's rather worried just now."

"She is a bit off colour," admitted Savile.

"Well, why on earth don't you put it straight?"

Savile's expression remained impassible. He said:

"Think I ought?"

"You're the only person who can."

"All right," said Savile. "I'll write to Chetwode."

"It'll take some time, writing and getting an answer," said Wilton.

"No good expecting an answer," said Savile. "He's the sort of chap who never writes letters unless they're unnecessary."

"And Lady Chetwode will be in a hurry," observed Bertie.

"You know her pretty well," said Savile.

"Then what's your idea?"

"I shall send him an enormous wire," said Savile-"he's more likely to read it than a letter-explaining the whole thing, and telling him to come home at once. I shan't ask for an answer."

"Why not?"

"Because I shouldn't get it."

"Good. That's a capital idea. But-a-Savile, can you afford these luxuries? I couldn't have, when I was a boy at Eton.-Look here, let me--"

Savile turned round and looked Wilton straight in the face.

"No, thanks," he said deliberately, shaking his head. Bertie's colour rose.

"But, my dear boy, why on earth not?"

"Oh, I expect you know," said Savile. Then feeling a little remorseful for the rebuff, he added: "Don't you bother about that. Besides, Aunt William gave me a couple of quid the other day to buy a ring for the girl I'

m engaged to. I shan't buy it just yet. That's all."

Bertie concealed his amusement.

"Then you'll have to keep the poor girl waiting," he said.

"Keep her waiting?" said Savile. "Of course I shall. It's a very good plan." He got up and took his hat. "Makes them more keen. Don't you find it so?"

"In my unfortunate experience nothing makes them keen at all, unless, of course, it's some one one doesn't want. And then everything does."

"Hard luck!" said Savile, shaking his head wisely, and took his leave, thinking with a smile that Wilton, having obviously got the chuck, was trying to keep in favour by playing the good friend. "He's not half a bad chap," thought Savile. "And I'll send that wire; it's a good idea."

He stood under a lamp at the corner of Half-Moon Street and counted his money.

"Confound it, I've only got a bob! It'll just pay for a cab to Aunt William's."

Thoroughly enjoying this exciting and adventurous life of diplomacy, he arrived at his aunt's. She was dressing for dinner. Nevertheless, for Savile, she came downstairs in a magenta wrapper.

"I hope there's nothing wrong, my dear boy," she said.

"No, everything's quite all right. But-you know what you gave me the other day, Aunt William?"

"Yes, dear."

"Sorry to say it's all gone."

"Oh, Savile!"

"Before I go back," said Savile, with a note of pathos in his voice, "I've one or two little presents I'm awfully keen on giving. I dare say you understand."

She didn't understand, but she gave him a five-pound note.

He beamed, and said, "Well, of all the bricks!"

"You promise me to spend it wisely, Savile dear. But I know I can trust you."

"Rather! This will be more frightfully useful than you can possibly imagine. Well, it seems beastly to rush in and get all I can, and then fly; but I've simply got to go. Besides, you want to dress," said Savile, looking at the wrapper.

"Yes. Get along with you, and I do hope that you won't turn out a dreadful, extravagant, fast young man when you're grown up," said Aunt William, with relish at the idea.

Savile smiled.

"Don't you worry about that, Aunt William! Why, you're thinking of ages ago, or Ouida, or something. There's no such thing nowadays as a fast young man, as you call it. They're always talking about how ill they are, or how hard up, and how they don't want to be bothered with women."

"How do you mean, dear?"

"Why, they're frightened to death of girls marrying them against their will-or getting mixed up in things-oh, I don't know! Anyhow, women seem to think it a great score to get hold of one. So that proves it, don't you think?"

"Then why is it that your sisters, for instance, are always surrounded by admirers?" said Aunt William.

"First of all, surrounded is bosh. Just as much as what you're always saying, that Sylvia has the world at her feet. They happen to be particularly pretty, and Felicity's jolly clever. But after all, they have only one or two each-admirers, I mean. And they-the girls-are exceptions."

Aunt William sighed.

"You're very worldly-wise, and you're a very clever boy, but you don't know everything."

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