Lady Rosemary Granton! Strange
how pleasant memories arise, how disagreeable nightmares
loom up before the mental vision at the sound of a
Lady Rosemary Granton! As far
back as I could remember, that name had sounded familiar
in my ears. As I grew from babyhood to boyhood,
from boyhood to youth, it was drummed into me by my
father that Lady Rosemary Granton, some day, would
wed the future Earl of Brammerton and Hazelmere.
This apparently awful calamity did not cause me any
mental agony or loss of sleep, for the reason that
I was merely The Honourable George, second son of
my noble parent.
I was rather happy that morning, as
I sat in an easy chair by the library window, perusing
a work by my favourite author, after a
glorious twenty-mile gallop along the hedgerows and
across country. I was rather happy, I say, as
I pondered over the thought that something in the
way of a just retribution was at last about to be meted
out to my elder, haughty, arrogant and extremely aristocratic
rake of a brother, Harry.
My mind flashed back again to the
source of my vagrant thoughts. Lady Rosemary
Granton! To lose the guiding hand of her mother
in her infancy; to spend her childhood in the luxurious
lap of New York’s pampered three hundred; to
live six years more among the ranchers, the cowboys
and, no doubt, the cattle thieves of Wyoming, in the
care of an old friend of her father, to wit, Colonel
Sol Dorry; then to be transferred for refining and
general educational purposes for another spell of
six years to the strict discipline of a French Convent;
to flit from city to city, from country to country,
for three years with her father, in the stress of
diplomatic service what a life! what an
upbringing for the future Countess of Brammerton!
Finally, by way of culmination, to lose her father
and to be introduced into London society, with a fortune
that made the roues of every capital in Europe
gasp and order a complete new wardrobe!
As I thought what the finish might
be, I threw up my hands, for it was a most interesting
and puzzling speculation.
Lady Rosemary Granton! Who had
not heard the stories of her conquests and her daring?
They were the talk of the clubs and the gossip of
the drawing-rooms. Masculine London was in ecstasies
over them and voted Lady Rosemary a trump. The
ladies were scandalised, as only jealous minded ladies
can be at lavishly endowed and favoured members of
their own sex.
Personally, I preferred to sit on
the fence. Being a lover of the open air, of
the agile body, the strong arm and the quick eye, I
could not but admire some of this extraordinary young
lady’s exploits. But, the woman
who was conceded the face of an angel, the form of
a Venus de Milo; who was reported to have dressed
as a jockey and ridden a horse to victory in the Grand
National Steeplechase; who, for a wager, had flicked
a coin from the fingers of a cavalry officer with a
revolver at twenty paces; lassooed a cigar from between
the teeth of the Duke of Kaslo and argued on the Budget
with a Cabinet Minister, all in one week; who could
pray with the piety of a fasting monk; weep at will
and look bewitching in the process; faint to order
with the grace, the elegance and all the stage effect
of an early Victorian Duchess: the woman who
was styled a golden-haired goddess by those on whom
she smiled and dubbed a saucy, red-haired minx by
those whom she spurned; was too, too much
of a conglomeration for such a humdrum individual,
such an ordinary, country-loving fellow as I, George
And now, poor old Hazelmere was undergoing
a process of renovation such as it had not experienced
since the occasion of a Royal visit some twenty years
before: not a room in the house where one could
feel perfectly safe, save the library: washing,
scrubbing, polishing and oiling in anticipation of
a rousing week-end House Party in honour of this wonderful,
chameleon-like, Lady Rosemary’s first visit;
when her engagement with Harry would be formally announced
to the inquisitive, fashionable world of which she
was a spoiled child.
Why all this fuss over a matter which
concerned only two individuals, I could not understand.
Had I been going to marry the Lady Rosemary, which,
Heaven forbid, I should have whipped her
quietly away to some little, country parsonage, to
the registrar of a small country town; or to some
village blacksmith, and so got the business over,
out of hand. But, of course, I had neither the
inclination, nor the intention, let alone the opportunity,
of putting to the test what I should do in regard
to marrying her, nor were my tastes in any way akin
to those of my most elegant, elder brother, Viscount
Harry, Captain of the Guards, egad, for
which two blessings I was indeed truly thankful.
As I was thus ruminating, the library
door opened and my noble sire came in, spick and span
as he always was, and happier looking than usual.
“’Morning, George,” he greeted.
“Good morning, dad.”
He rubbed his hands together.
“Gad, youngster! (I was twenty-four)
everything is going like clockwork. The house
is all in order; supplies on hand to stock an hotel;
all London falling over itself in its eagerness to
get here. Harry will arrive this afternoon and
Lady Rosemary to-morrow.”
I raised my eyebrows, nodded disinterestedly
and started in again to my reading. Father walked
the carpet excitedly, then he stopped and looked down
“You don’t seem particularly
enthusiastic over it, George. Nothing ever does
interest you but boxing bouts, wrestling matches, golf
and books. Why don’t you brace up and
get into the swim? Why don’t you take
the place that belongs to you among the young fellows
of your own station?”
“God forbid!” I answered fervently.
“Not jealous of Harry, are you?
Not smitten at the very sound of the lady’s
name, like the young bloods, and the old
ones, too, in the city?”
“God forbid!” I replied again.
“Hang it all, can’t you say anything more
than that?” he asked testily.
“Oh, yes! dad, lots,”
I answered, closing my book and keeping my finger
at the place. “For one thing I
have never met this Lady Rosemary Granton; never even
seen her picture and, to tell you the truth,
from what I have heard of her, I have no immediate
desire to make the lady’s acquaintance.”
There was silence for a moment, and
from my father’s heavy breathing I could gather
that his temper was ruffling.
“Look here, you young barbarian,
you revolutionary, what do you mean?
What makes you talk in that way of one of the best
and sweetest young ladies in the country? I
won’t have it from you, sir, this Lady
Rosemary Granton, this Lady indeed.”
“Oh! you know quite well, dad,
what I mean,” I continued, a little bored.
“Harry is no angel, and I doubt not but Lady
Rosemary is by far too good for him. But, you
know, you cannot fail to have heard the
stories that are flying over the country of her cantrips; some
of them, well, not exactly pleasant. And, allowing
fifty percent for exaggeration, there is still a lot
that would be none the worse of considerable discounting
to her advantage.”
“Tuts, tush and nonsense!
Foolish talk most of it! The kind of stuff
that is garbled and gossiped about every popular woman.
The girl is up-to-date, modern, none of your drawing-room
dolls. I admit that she has go in her, vim,
animal spirits, youthful exuberance and all that.
She may love sport and athletics, but, but, you,
yourself, spend most of your time in pursuit of these
same amusements. Why not she?”
“Why! father, these are the
points I admire in her, the only ones, I
may say. But, oh! what’s the good of going
over it all? I know, you know, everybody
knows; her flirtations, her affairs; every
rake in London tries to boast of his acquaintance
with her and bandies her name over his brandy and
soda, and winks.”
“Look here, George,” put
in my father angrily, “you forget yourself.
These stories are lies, every one of them! Lady
Rosemary is the daughter of my dearest, my dead friend.
Very soon, she will be your sister.”
“Yes! I know, so
let us not say any more about it. It is Harry
and she for it, and, if they are pleased and an old
whim of yours satisfied, what matters it
to an ordinary, easy-going, pipe-loving, cold-blooded
fellow like me?”
“Whim, did you say? Whim?”
cried my father, flaring up and clenching his hands
excitedly. “Do you call the vow of a Brammerton
a whim? The pledged word of a Granton a whim?
Whim, be damned.”
For want of words to express himself,
my father dropped into a chair and drummed his agitated
fingers on the arms of it.
I rose and went over to him, laying
my hand lightly on his shoulder.
Poor old dad! I had not meant
to hurt his feelings. After all, he was the
dearest of old-fashioned fellows and I loved his haughty,
“There, there, father, I
did not mean to say anything that would give offence.
I take it all back. I am sorry, indeed
He looked up at me and his face brightened once more.
“’Gad, boy, I’m
glad to hear you say it. I know you did not mean
anything by your bruskness. You are an impetuous,
headstrong young devil though, with a touch
of your mother in you, and, ’gad,
if I don’t like you the more for it.
“But, but,” he went on,
looking in front of him, “you must remember
that although Granton and I were mere boys at the time
our vow was made, he was a Granton and
I a Brammerton, whose vows are made to keep.
It seems like yesterday, George; it was a few hours
after he saved my life in the fighting before Sevastopol.
We were sitting by the camp-fire. The chain-shot
was still flying around. The cries of the wounded
were in our ears. The sentries were challenging
continually and drums were rolling in the distance.
“I clasped Fred’s hand
and I thanked him for what he had done for me that
day, right in the teeth of the Russian guns.
“‘Freddy, old chap, you’re
a trump,’ I said, ’and, if ever I be blessed
with an heir to Brammerton and Hazelmere, I would wish
nothing better than that he should marry a Granton.’
“’And nothing would please
me so much, Harry, old boy, as that a maid
of Granton should wed a Brammerton,’ he answered
“‘Then it’s a go,’ said I,
full of enthusiasm.
“‘It’s a go, Harry.’
“And we raised our winecups, such as they were.
“‘Your daughter, Fred!’
“‘Your heir, Harry!’
“‘The future Earl and
Countess of Brammerton and Hazelmere,’ we chimed
“Our winecups clinked and the
bond was made; made for all time, George.”
My father’s eyes lit up and
he seemed to be back in the Crimea. He shook
his head sadly.
“And now, poor old Fred is gone.
Ah, well! our dream is coming true. In a month,
the maid of Granton weds the future Earl of Brammerton.
“’Gad, George, my boy, Rosemary
may be skittish and lively, but were she the most
mercurial woman in Christendom, she has never forgotten
that she is first of all a Granton, and, as a Granton,
she has kept a Granton’s pledge.”
For a moment I caught the contagion
of my father’s earnestness. My eyes felt
damp as I thought how important, after all, this union
was to him. But, even then, I could not resist
a little more questioning.
“Does Harry love her, dad?”
“Love her!” He smiled. “Why!
my boy, he’s madly in love with her.”
“Then, why doesn’t he
mend a bit? give over his mad chasing after, to
put it mildly, continual excitement; and
demonstrate that he is thoroughly in earnest.
You know, falling madly in love is a habit of Harry’s.”
“Don’t you worry your
serious head about that, George. You talk of
Harry as if he were a baby. You talk as if you
were his grandfather, instead of his younger brother
and a mere boy.”
“Does Lady Rosemary love Harry?”
I asked, ignoring his admonition.
“Of course, she loves him.
Why shouldn’t she? He’s a good fellow;
well bred and well made; he is a soldier; he is in
the swim; he has plenty to spend; he is the heir to
Brammerton; why shouldn’t she love
him? She is going to marry him, isn’t she?
She may not be of the gushing type, George, but she’ll
come to it all in good time. She will grow to
love him, as every good wife does her husband.
So, don’t let that foolish head of yours give
you any more trouble.”
I turned to leave.
“You will be on hand this week-end.
I want you at home. I need you to keep things
going. No skipping off to sporting gatherings
or athletic conventions. I wish you to meet
your future sister.”
“Well, I had not thought of that,
dad. Big Jim Darrol, Tom Tanner and
I have entered for a number of events at the Gartnockan
Saturday. I am also on the lists as a competitor
for the Northern
Counties Golf Championship on Monday.”
My father looked up at me in a strange way.
“However,” I went on quickly,
“much as I dislike the rush, the gush and the
clatter of house parties, I shall be on hand.”
“Good! I knew you would,
my boy,” replied my father quietly. “Where
away now, lad?”
“Oh! down to the village to
tell Jim and Tom not to count on me for their week-end