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Mr. Bergan looked as if he did seeseveral things. "Is that the reason why you propose to throw them together?" he asked, dryly.CHAPTER IX.
Isola was in favour of Pau, but after much consultation of books recording other people's experiences, it was finally decided that of all places in the world, San Remo was the best winter home for Martin Disney's wife.
Isola felt the change, though she was hardly conscious of it on the day of the floral battle, when she was sitting in a roomy landau, covered with the dark shining foliage and pale yellow fruit from some of those lemon trees in the orchard where she and Allegra had spent their morning hours. Allegra had planned the decorations, and had gone down to the coach-house to assist in the work, delighted to[Pg 229] chatter with the coachman in doubtful Italian, groping her way in a language in which her whole stock-in-trade consisted of a few quotations from Dante or Petrarchand all the wise saws of Dr. Riccabocca.Theres heaps of men who can do that, she said, half jealously.
Her only answer was to bend her head down to kiss the hands that clasped her own.
Mr. and Mrs. Crowther, however, were both upon the alert to receive their friends, the lady frankly cordial, the gentleman swelling with pompous friendliness, as if his manly breast were trying to emerge from the moderate restriction of a very open waistcoat. He protested that he was charmed to welcome Colonel Disney to Glenaveril, and he glanced round the splendid walls as who should say, "It is no light thing to invite people to such a house as this."
"He is just as dear to me," pursued Isola, warmly. "I look up to him, and love him with all my heart. There never was a better, truer man. From the time I began to read history I always admired great soldiers. I don't mean to say that Martin is a heroonly I know he is a thorough soldierand he seemed to realize all my childish dreams."In the midst of one of her animated sentences, a low moan was heard from the inner room. "Excuse me," said Astra hurriedly, amazed to see how completely she had forgotten her cares, fears, and griefs, in the magic of the stranger's presence,"Excuse me, I must go to my mother."