Lady Carlotta stepped out on to the platform of
the small wayside station and took a turn or two up
and down its uninteresting length, to kill time till the
train should be pleased to proceed on its way. Then,
*5*in the roadway beyond, she saw a horse struggling
with a more than ample load, and a carter of the sort
that seems to bear a sullen hatred against the animal
that helps him to earn a living. Lady Carlotta
promptly betook her to the roadway, and put rather a
*10*different complexion on the struggle. Certain of her
acquaintances were wont to give her plentiful
admonition as to the undesirability of interfering on
behalf of a distressed animal, such interference being
" none of her business ."Only once had she put the
*15*doctrine of non-interference into practice, when one
of its most eloquent exponents had been besieged for
nearly three hours in a small and extremely
uncomfortable may-tree by an angry boar-pig, while
Lady Carlotta, on the other side of the fence, had
*20*proceeded with the water-colour sketch she was
engaged on, and refused to interfere between the
boar and his prisoner. It is to be feared that she lost
the friendship of the ultimately rescued lady. On this
occasion she merely lost the train, which gave way to
*25*the first sign of impatience it had shown throughout
the journey, and steamed off without her. She bore
the desertion with philosophical indifference; her
friends and relations were thoroughly well used to
the fact of her luggage arriving without her.
*30*She wired a vague non-committal message to her
destination to say that she was coming on "by
another train." Before she had time to think what her
next move might be she was confronted by an
imposingly attired lady, who seemed to be taking a
*35*prolonged mental inventory of her clothes and looks.
"You must be Miss Hope, the governess I`ve come
to meet, " said the apparition, in a tone that admitted
of very little argument.
"Very well, if I must I must ," said Lady Carlotta to
*40*herself with dangerous meekness.
" I am Mrs. Quabarl ," continued the lady ;" and
where, pray ,is your luggage ?"
"It`s gone astray ,"said the alleged governess,
falling in with the excellent rule of life that the absent
*45*are always to blame; the luggage had, in point of fact,
behaved with perfect correctitude ."I`ve just
telegraphed about it ,"she added, with a nearer
approach to truth.
"How provoking ,"said Mrs. Quabarl;"these
*50*railway companies are so careless .However, my
maid can lend you things for the night,"and she led
the way to her car.
During the drive to the Quabarl mansion
Lady Carlotta was impressively introduced to the
*55*nature of the charge that had been thrust upon her;
she learned that Claude and Wilfrid were delicate,
sensitive young people ,that Irene had the artistic
temperament highly developed, and that Viola was
something or other else of a mould equally
*60*commonplace among children of that class and type
in the twentieth century.
"I wish them not only to be TAUGHT ,"said Mrs.
Quabarl,"but INTERESTED in what they learn. In
their history lessons, for instance, you must try to
*65*make them feel that they are being introduced to the
life-stories of men and women who really lived, not
merely committing a mass of names and dates to
memory. French, of course, I shall expect you to talk
at meal-times several days in the week."
*70* "I shall talk French four days of the week and
Russian in the remaining three."
"Russian ? My dear Miss Hope, no one in the
house speaks or understands Russian. "
"That will not embarrass me in the east ,"said
*75*Lady Carlotta coldly.
Mrs. Quabarl, to use a colloquial expression, was
knocked off her perch. She was one of those
imperfectly self-assured individuals who are
magnificent and autocratic as long as they are not
*80*seriously opposed. The least show of unexpected
resistance goes a long way towards rendering them
cowed and apologetic. When the new governess
failed to express wondering admiration of the large
newly-purchased and expensive car, and lightly
*85*alluded to the superior advantages of one or two
makes which had just been put on the market, the
discomfiture of her patroness became almost abject.
Her feelings were those which might have animated a
general of ancient warfaring days, on beholding his
*90*heaviest battle-elephant ignominiously driven off the
field by slinger sand javelin throwers.