Was this the man who contemned the whole English peasantry, colliers especially? Theodora rejoiced that his hobby had saved her a world of embarrassment, and still more that their tete-a-tete was interrupted. Lady Elizabeth Brandon begged to know whether Miss Martindale could see her.
She was on her way through London; and having just heard of Colonel Martindale's illness, had come to inquire, and offer to be useful. Emma remained at the hotel. After Lord Martindale's cheerful answer and warm thanks, the gentlemen set off together, and Theodora sat down with her good old friend to give the particulars, with all the fulness belonging to the first relief after imminent peril.
After the first, however, Lady Elizabeth's attention wandered; and before the retrograding story had gone quite back to the original Brogden cough, she suddenly asked if Percival Fotheringham was in England.
'Yes, at Worthbourne. You know it was his cousin--'
'I know--it was a mistake,' said Lady Elizabeth, hurrying over the subject, as by no means suited its importance in Theodora's eyes. 'Can you tell me whether he has seen or heard anything of Mr. Mark Gardner?'
'Yes,' said Theodora, surprised.
'I suppose you have not heard him say how he is conducting himself?'
'Have you heard that he is going to be married to Mrs. Finch?'