HOW THINGS WERE ARRANGED
'JACK is here,' said Lord Rufford, as soon as the fuss of his late arrival had worn itself away.
'I shall be proud to renew my acquaintance.'
'Can you come to-morrow?'
'Oh yes,' said Arabella, rapturously.
'There are difficulties, and I ought to have written to you about them. I am going with the Fitzwilliam.'* Now Mistletoe was in Lincolnshire, not very far from Peterborough, not very far from Stamford, not very far from Oakham. A regular hunting man like Lord Rufford knew how to compass the difficulties of distance in all hunting countries. Horses could go by one train or over night, and he could follow by another. And a postchaise* could meet him here or there. But when a lady is added, the difficulty is often increased fivefold.
'Is it very far?' asked Arabella.
'It is a little far. I wonder who are going from here?'
'Heaven only knows. I have passed my time in playing cat's cradle with Sir Jeffrey Bunker for the amusement of the company, and in confidential communications with my aunt and Lady Drummond. I haven't heard hunting mentioned.'
'Have you anything on wheels going across to Holcombe Cross to-morrow, duke?' asked Lord Rufford. The duke said that he did not know of anything on wheels going to Holcombe Cross. Then a hunting man who had heard the question said that he and another intended to travel by train to Oundle. Upon this Lord Rufford turned round and looked at Arabella mournfully.
'Cannot I go by train to Oundle?' she asked.
'Nothing on earth so jolly if your pastors and masters and all that will let you.'
'I haven't got any pastors and masters.'
'The duchess!' suggested Lord Rufford.
'I thought all that kind of nonsense was over,' said Arabella.