“What does he say?” asked the Squire.

Roger handed him the note. It contained an invitation to dinner, to meet M. Geoffroi de St. H., whose views on certain subjects Roger had been advocating in the article Lord Hollingford had spoken about to Molly, when he, danced with her at the Hollingford ball. M. Geoffroi de St. H. was in England now, and was expected to pay a visit at the Towers in the course of the following week. He had expressed a wish to meet the author of the paper which had already attracted the attention of the French comparative anatomists; and Lord Hollingford added a few words about his own desire to make the acquaintance of a neighbour whose tastes were so similar to his own; and then followed a civil message from Lord and Lady Cumnor.

Lord Hollingford’s hand was cramped and rather illegible. The Squire could not read it all at once, and was enough put out to decline any assistance in deciphering it. At last he made it out.

“So my lord-lieutenant is taking some notice of the Hamleys at last. The election is coming on, is it? But, I can tell him, we’re not to be got so easily. I suppose this trap is set for you, Osborne. What’s this you’ve been writing that the French mounseer is so taken with?”

“It is not me, sir!” said Osborne. “Both note and call are for Roger.”

“I don’t understand it,” said the Squire. “These Whig fellows have never done their duty by me; not that I want it of them! The Duke of Debenham used to pay the Hamleys a respect due to ’em—the oldest landowners in the county—but since he died, and this shabby Whig lord has succeeded him, I’ve never dined at the lord-lieutenant’s—no, not once.”

“But I think, sir, I’ve heard you say Lord Cumnor used to invite you—only you did not choose to go,” said Roger.

“Yes. What d’ye mean by that? Do you suppose I was going to desert the principles of my family, and curry favour with the Whigs? No! leave that to them! They can ask the heir of the Hamleys fast enough when a county election is coming on.”

“I tell you, sir,” said Osborne, in the irritable tone he sometimes used when his father was particularly unreasonable, “it is not me Lord Hollingford is inviting; it is Roger. Roger is making himself known for what he is, a first-rate fellow,” continued Osborne—a sting of self-reproach mingling with his generous pride in his brother—“and he’s getting himself a name; he’s been writing about these new French theories and discoveries, and this foreign savant very naturally wants to make his acquaintance, and so Lord Hollingford asks him to dine. It’s as clear as can be,” lowering his tone, and addressing himself to Roger; “it has nothing to do with politics, if my father would but see it.”

Of course the Squire heard this little aside with the unlucky uncertainty of hearing which is a characteristic of the beginning of deafness; and its effect on him was perceptible in the increased acrimony of his next speech.

“You young men think you know everything. I tell you it’s a palpable Whig trick. And what business has Roger— if it is Roger the man wants—to go currying favour with the French? In my day we were content to hate ’em and lick ’em. But it’s just like your conceit, Osborne, setting yourself up to say it’s your younger brother they’re asking, and not you; I tell you it’s you. They think the eldest son was sure to be called after his father, Roger—Roger Hamley, junior. It’s as plain as a pike-staff. They know they can’t catch me with chaff, but they’ve got up this French dodge. What business had you to go writing about the French, Roger? I should have thought you were too sensible to take any notice of their fancies and theories; but, if it is you they’ve asked, I’ll not have you going and meeting these foreigners at a Whig house. They ought to have asked Osborne. He’s the representative of the Hamleys, if I’m not; and they can’t get me, let ’em try ever so. Besides, Osborne has got a bit of the mounseer about him, which

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