The Project Gutenberg EBook of Enter Bridget, by Thomas Cobb
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Title: Enter Bridget
Author: Thomas Cobb
Release Date: April 28, 2006 [EBook #18280]
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK ENTER BRIDGET ***
Produced by Al Haines
AUTHOR OF "PHILLIDA," "THE CHOICE OF THEODORA,"
"THE ANGER OF OLIVIA," ETC.
MILLS & BOON, LIMITED
49 RUPERT STREET
MY BEST OF FRIENDS.
I LATE FOR DINNER II MARK EXPLAINS III BRIDGET IV BRIDGET AT GRANDISON SQUARE V COLONEL FAVERSHAM VI CONCERNING BIRTHDAYS VII THE EXCURSION VIII A PROPOSAL IX MARK RETURNS X CONFIDENCES XI MARK REPORTS PROGRESS XII SYBIL XIII A WALK ABROAD XIV THE WOOING O'T XV MARK MAKES A BEGINNING XVI BUYING A CARPET—AND AFTER XVII HASTY WORDS XVIII HOW IT HAPPENED XIX AN APPOINTMENT XX IN SIGHT OF PORT XXI JIMMY SETS TO WORK XXII INCRIMINATING HIMSELF XXIII HAVING IT OUT XXIV A HOT SCENT XXV OPEN CONFESSION XXVI LAWRENCE SUMS IT UP XXVII "MRS. JIMMY" XXVIII EXEUNT OMNES
LATE FOR DINNER
Concerning Bridget there was from the outset considerable difference ofopinion. Mark Driver, for instance, always showed a tendency tosomething more than tolerance, and even Carrissima Faversham, in spiteof a manifestly unfavourable bias, strove to hold the balance even. Itwas her brother Lawrence who took the most adverse view; insisting thatMiss Rosser was neither more nor less than an adventuress—"a prettywoman on the make" was his expression, uttered, it is true, before hehad an opportunity of seeing her face.
Her entrance on the scene was heralded by Mark Driver one eveningtowards the end of March, when he had accepted an invitation to dinewith his sister and Lawrence in Charteris Street, S.W.
Carrissima's maid found her so exacting that evening, that she mighthave been going to an important party, instead of merely to a quietdinner with her brother and his wife; but then, expecting Mark to makea fourth, she wished to look her very best, and flattered herself shehad succeeded.
Although she sometimes longed for the power to add a few inches to herstature, she realized that she had already much to be thankful for.Suppose, for example, that her eyebrows had been as fair as her hair,or even worse, her eyelashes, which as it happened were satisfactorilyblack.
Mr. Lawrence Faversham, barrister-at-law, was thirty-two years of age,and rather short, although he always held his head in the air as if hewere doing his best to appear taller. Hearing the street door bellring, Mrs. Lawrence Faversham waylaid Carrissima on the stairs andinsisted on taking her to gaze at little Victor, aged two, peacefullysleeping in the nursery.
"Mark's late as usual," exclaimed Lawrence, as his sister presentlysailed into the drawing-room. "Ten minutes past eight," he added,taking her hand.
He had fair hair, a long narrow face and sloping shoulders. Whether hewas sitting down or standing up, there always seemed to be somethingstiff, self-important and formal about him.
"Mark wasn't due at King's Cross until tea-time," said Phoebe, a prettybrunette, several inches taller than her husband and seven yearsyounger. "I wanted him to sleep here to-night, and really I cannotimagine why he refused."
"Not very complimentary to us," answered Lawrence, "to prefer to go toan hotel!"
"And," Phoebe explained, "he is off to Paris to-morrow morning."
"Well, I wish to goodness he would come soon if he's coming at all,"grumbled Lawrence.
"Oh, of course, he's certain to be here," urged Phoebe, not liking tobegin dinner without her brother, who might provokingly arrive as soonas they sat down; while on the other hand, her three years' experienceof married life had taught her that it was undesirable to keep Lawrencewaiting. When half-past eight struck, however, she could restrain hisimpatience no longer; the three went to the dining-room, andCarrissima, with a sense of profound disappointment, sat down at theround table opposite the empty chair.
Although Phoebe did her utmost to spin out the meal by eating withtantalizing and hygienic slowness, it ended without any sign of theabsentee, and at last she felt bound to return to the drawing-room,where she was followed ten minutes later by Lawrence, who had stayed tosmoke a cigarette.
"The worst of it is," he said, standing before the fire, "you neverknow quite where you are with Mark."
"I suppose," suggested Carrissima, "the simple fact of the matter isthat he missed his train."
"In that case," returned her brother, "surely he might have run tosixpence for a telegram. For a steady-going fellow Mark is about aserratic as they're made."
"How extremely inconsistent!" exclaimed Carrissima.
"Not at all!" said Lawrence, frowning, as he took a chair. "A man maydrive crookedly without exceeding the limit. Although there are thingsyou can swear Mark would never dream of doing, you never know whatfolly he will be up to next."
As Lawrence was speaking in his rather pompous manner, the door openedand Mark Driver entered the room: tall, broad-shouldered, with ahandsome, alert, shaven face and an obvious appearance of haste.
On leaving Cambridge he had gone to Saint Bartholomew's, and havingcompleted his course there, taken a post as House Surgeon at SaintJosephine's, a small hospital in a southeastern suburb. Mark remainedthere two years and left at Christmas; after spending a few weeks idlyin London he went to take charge of Doctor Bunbury's practice inYorkshire, principally for the sake of being near to his own people,and having passed two months, more occupied by sport than patients,returned this afternoon.
"Why didn't you come in time for dinner?" demanded Phoebe, as he kissedher cheek.
"Upon my word, I am most awfully sorry," he replied, and turned at onceto Carrissima, who was striving to hide her satisfaction on seeing hisface again. Never, perhaps, during their long acquaintance, had theybeen so many months apart; but while Mark was in London betweenChristmas and his departure for the North of England, Carrissima hadbeen on a long visit to Devonshire.
"I didn't expect to meet you this evening," said Mark. "Phoebe told mein her letter last week that you were staying in Shropshire withColonel Faversham."
"So I was," returned Carrissima. "But I never had the least intentionto live there for the remainder of my life."
"She took us all completely by surprise," explained Phoebe, "by cominghome the day before yesterday."
"I really cannot understand even now," said Lawrence, "why in the worldyou couldn't stay to return with father!"
"Oh well, it's an ill-wind that blows no one any good," cried Mark,while Carrissima sat with her eyes averted, hoping that nobody wouldsuspect her actual object.
But she had known of his intention to depart for Paris the nextmorning, to spend a month with his old friend Wentworth before finallysettling down in London. If she had waited for Colonel Faversham'sreturn to Grandison Square she must, obviously, have missed Mark Driveragain. One of the chief purposes of Carrissima's life seemed to be thedisguise of motives, concerning which she scarcely knew whether sheought to feel ashamed or not.
"Well," suggested Lawrence, "we haven't heard why you didn't turn up intime."
"I hope I didn't keep you waiting," said Mark, at last shaking handswith his brother-in-law.
"You see," Mark explained, "I dined at Belloni's."
"Good gracious!" answered Lawrence, with evident annoyance, "if youcould go to Belloni's, why in the world couldn't you come here as youpromised?"
"I meant to come," said Mark, looking somewhat embarrassed, as heglanced at Carrissima. "You see, I went to Duffield's Hotel in CravenStreet direct from the station. I thought I would just potter aboutand smoke a pipe or so till it was time to change."
"But you haven't changed!" exclaimed Lawrence, with a disapprovingfrown at Mark's blue serge jacket. It no doubt suited his long,athletic figure admirably; but, nevertheless, was very much out ofplace in present circumstances.
"No, of course not," said Mark. "The fact is I altered my mind.
Instead of hanging about at Duffield's, I thought I would go to Golfney
"What on earth for?"
"Oh well, to see Bridget, you know," answered Mark, and once more heglanced at Carrissima, whose eyes met his own.
"Who is Bridget?" asked Phoebe, whereupon Mark swung round to face her,his hands thrust deep in his jacket pockets, his face slightly flushed.
"Miss Rosser," he said. "You remember Bridget Rosser, Phoebe! When westayed at Crowborough four years ago."
"Five," suggested Lawrence, with his usual meticulous exactitude.
"You were not there," said Mark.
"But still," answered Lawrence, "I remember going down with father tolook at the house before he made up his mind to take it."
"I recollect Bridget perfectly well," said Carrissima in her mostcheerful tone. "Her father was David Rosser the novelist."
"He died in Paris about ten months ago," explained Mark, "and Bridgetwas his only daughter."
"A rather nice-looking girl, with reddish hair!" said Phoebe.
"The most wonderful hair!" exclaimed Mark. "I have never seen anythinglike it. Oh, she's wonderful altogether!"
"Where did you come across Miss Rosser again?" inquired Lawrence, while
Carrissima wished that her cheeks would not tingle so uncomfortably.
"At the Old Masters' about three months ago—just after Christmas,"replied Mark. "I had lately left Saint Josephine's, you know. Ishould never have recognized her, but she happened to drop her purse; Inaturally picked it up, and then she asked whether my name wasn'tDriver."
"Isn't Golfney Place chiefly lodging-houses?" asked Carrissima.
"Number Five is one, anyhow."
"Does Miss Rosser live with her mother?" suggested Phoebe.
"Mrs. Rosser died shortly after we left Crowborough," was the answer."Then the house was given up. Bridget wandered about Europe with herfather until his own death a little less than a year ago."
"Then," demanded Lawrence, "whom does she live with?"
"Oh, she's quite on her own."
"What is her age, for goodness' sake?"
"Upon my word, I don't know for certain," said Mark. "I couldn't verywell inquire. I should say she's about the same age as Carrissima."
"As a matter of prosaic fact," answered Carrissima, forcing a smile,although she did not feel very cheerful at the moment, "she is a fewmonths older."
"Well," Lawrence persisted, "after picking up the purse at the Old
Masters', what was the next move in the game?"
Phoebe was beginning to look rather anxious. She realized that Markwas growing impatient under Lawrence's cross-examination—he wassupposed to be a skilful cross-examiner. It was occasionally a littledifficult to keep the peace between these two men, who were herdearest; with the exception, perhaps, of the little man up-stairs.
"Bridget asked me to call," said Mark, "or I asked whether I might. Iforget which, and what in the world does it matter?"
"Anyhow, you went!"
"Why, of course," was the answer.
"Is Miss Rosser—is she hard up, by any chance?" asked Lawrence.
"Good Lord, no!" exclaimed Mark.