A LITTLE DISENCHANTED WITH
Early in July 1896, the night after his arrival in London, Johnston dined with the Andersons at their home in Eaton Square. It would be a fair conjecture, though nothing more, that earlier the same day young Sir Harry, dapper Sir Harry, had declared his love and proposed marriage to Winifred Irby, the daughter of the house. Of the history of their relationship we know little, except that it had begun in a remote kind of way in 1889. Since his English visit in 1894 Johnston had invariably concluded his semi-official letters to Anderson with an expression of regard for the family. Presumably there had also been a private correspondence of which no trace has survived. It was to be a lasting though a childless union; but it may be doubted whether they were ever a really well assorted couple, she twelve years younger and as tall as he was short, discreet, conventional, lady-like, ambitious like him, but perhaps more for position than achievement. Old Sir Percy, however, was delighted, and friendly as never before. A house of Lady Anderson's in the New Forest was to be put at Johnston's disposal for the summer, so that he could make a perfect recovery. After that, Sir Percy hinted, there might be a vacancy in the Legation at Brussels. Strange reports were beginning to circulate about the Congo Free State, and there would obviously be a strong case for appointing a Minister to the Belgian court who had a considerable experience of African administration.
A week later Anderson was dead, struck down by a sudden attack of thrombosis. Sir Philip Currie had already left the Foreign Office, and the new Permanent Under-Secretary, Sir Thomas Sanderson, though an able diplomat with a quick wit that responded perhaps more instantaneously than Anderson's to Johnston's lighter side, had no special knowledge of African problems, and was without a father-in-law's interest in helping him to surmount the obstacle that had arisen in his career. Leaving Lady Anderson and her daughter to their mourning, Johnston betook himself to a small country house near Wimborne, and settled down to close and careful work on