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“It would be jolly to spend Easter in Vienna this year,” said Strudwarden, “and look up some of my old friends there. It’s about the jolliest place I know of to be at for Easter–“

“I thought we had made up our minds to spend Easter at Brighton,” interrupted Lena Strudwarden, with an air of aggrieved surprise.

“You mean that you had made up your mind that we should spend Easter there,” said her husband; “we spent last Easter there, and Whitsuntide as well, and the year before that we were at Worthing, and Brighton again before that. I think it would be just as well to have a real change of scene while we are about it.”

“The journey to Vienna would be very expensive,” said Lena.

“You are not often concerned about economy,” said Strudwarden, “and in any case the trip of Vienna won’t cost a bit more than the rather meaningless luncheon parties we usually give to quite meaningless acquaintances at Brighton. To escape from all that set would be a holiday in itself.”

Strudwarden spoke feelingly; Lena Strudwarden maintained an equally feeling silence on that particular subject. The set that she gathered round her at Brighton and other South Coast resorts was composed of individuals who might be dull and meaningless in themselves, but who understood the art of flattering Mrs. Strudwarden. She had no intention of foregoing their society and their homage and flinging herself among unappreciative strangers in a foreign capital.

“You must go to Vienna alone if you are bent on going,” she said; “I couldn’t leave Louis behind, and a dog is always a fearful nuisance in a foreign hotel, besides all the fuss and separation of the quarantine restrictions when one comes back. Louis would die if he was parted from me for even a week. You don’t know what that would mean to me.”

Lena stooped down and kissed the nose of the diminutive brown Pomeranian that lay, snug and irresponsive, beneath a shawl on her lap.

“Look here,” said Strudwarden, “this eternal Louis business is getting to be a ridiculous nuisance. Nothing can be done, no plans can be made, without some veto connected with that animal’s whims or convenience being imposed. If you were a priest in attendance on some African fetish you couldn’t set up a more elaborate code of restrictions. I believe you’d ask the Government to put off a General Election if you thought it would interfere with Louis’s comfort in any way.”

By way of answer to this tirade Mrs. Strudwarden stooped down again and kissed the irresponsive brown nose. It was the action of a woman with a beautifully meek nature, who would, however, send the whole world to the stake sooner than yield an inch where she knew herself to be in the right.

“It isn’t as if you were in the least bit fond of animals,” went on Strudwarden, with growing irritation; “when we are down at Kerryfield you won’t stir a step to take the house dogs out, even if they’re dying for a run, and I don’t think you’ve been in the stables twice in your life. You laugh at what you call the fuss that’s being made over the extermination of plumage birds, and you are quite indignant with me if I interfere on behalf of an ill- treated, over-driven animal on the road. And yet you insist on every one’s plans being made subservient to the convenience of that stupid little morsel of fur and selfishness.”

“You are prejudiced against my little Louis,” said Lena, with a world of tender regret in her voice.

“I’ve never had the chance of being anything else but prejudiced against him,” said Strudwarden; “I know what a jolly responsive companion a doggie can be, but I’ve never been allowed to put a finger near Louis. You say he snaps at any one except you and your maid, and you snatched him away from old Lady Peterby the other day, when she wanted to pet him, for fear he would bury his teeth in her. All that I ever see of him is the top of his unhealthy-looking little nose, peeping out from his basket or from your muff, and I occasionally hear his wheezy little bark when you take him for a walk up and down the corridor. You can’t expect one to get extravagantly fond of a dog of that sort. One might as well work up an affection for the cuckoo in a cuckoo-clock.”