In Which We Enjoy Three Courses and a Dessert
When the ladies of Gaunt House were at breakfast that morning, Lord Steyne (who took his chocolate in private and seldom disturbed the females of his household, or saw them except upon public days, or when they crossed each other in the hall, or when from his pit-box at the opera he surveyed them in their box on the grand tier) his lordship, we say, appeared among the ladies and the children who were assembled over the tea and toast, and a battle royal ensued apropos of Rebecca.
“My Lady Steyne,” he said, “I want to see the list for your dinner on Friday; and I want you, if you please, to write a card for Colonel and Mrs. Crawley.”
“Blanche writes them,” Lady Steyne said in a flutter. “Lady Gaunt writes them.”
“I will not write to that person,” Lady Gaunt said, a tall and stately lady, who looked up for an instant and then down again after she had spoken. It was not good to meet Lord Steyne’s eyes for those who had offended him.
“Send the children out of the room. Go!” said he pulling at the bell-rope. The urchins, always frightened before him, retired: their mother would have followed too. “Not you,” he said. “You stop.”
“My Lady Steyne,” he said, “once more will you have the goodness to go to the desk and write that card for your dinner on Friday?”
“My Lord, I will not be present at it,” Lady Gaunt said; “I will go home.”
“I wish you would, and stay there. You will find the bailiffs at Bareacres very pleasant company, and I shall be freed from lending money to your relations and from your own damned tragedy airs. Who are you to give orders here? You have no money. You’ve got no brains. You were here to have children, and you have not had any. Gaunt’s tired of you, and George’s wife is the only person in the family who doesn’t wish you were dead. Gaunt would marry again if you were.”
“I wish I were,” her Ladyship answered with tears and rage in her eyes.