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The Desborough Connections
by [?]

“Then it isn’t a question of property or next of kin?” said the consul.

“Lord! no,” said the lady vivaciously. “Why, goodness me! I reckon old Desborough could, at any time before he died, have ‘bought up’ or ‘bought out’ the whole lot of his relatives on this side of the big pond, no matter what they were worth. No, it’s only a matter of curiosity and just sociableness.”

The American consul at St. Kentigorn felt much relieved. He had feared it was only the old story of delusive quests for imaginary estates and impossible inheritances which he had confronted so often in nervous wan-eyed enthusiasts and obstreperous claimants from his own land. Certainly there was no suggestion of this in the richly dressed and be-diamonded matron before him, nor in her pretty daughter, charming in a Paris frock, alive with the consciousness of beauty and admiration, and yet a little ennuye from gratified indulgence. He knew the mother to be the wealthy widow of a New York millionaire, that she was traveling for pleasure in Europe, and a chance meeting with her at dinner a few nights before had led to this half-capricious, half-confidential appointment at the consulate.

“No,” continued Mrs. Desborough; “Mr. Desborough came to America, when a small boy, with an uncle who died some years ago. Mr. Desborough never seemed to hanker much after his English relatives as long as I knew him, but now that I and Sadie are over here, why we guessed we might look ’em up and sort of sample ’em! ‘Desborough’ ‘s rather a good name,” added the lady, with a complacency that, however, had a suggestion of query in it.

“Yes,” said the consul; “from the French, I fancy.”

“Mr. Desborough was English–very English,” corrected the lady.

“I mean it may be an old Norman name,” said the consul.

“Norman’s good enough for ME,” said the daughter, reflecting. “We’ll just settle it as Norman. I never thought about that DES.”

“Only you may find it called ‘Debborough’ here, and spelt so,” said the consul, smiling.

Miss Desborough lifted her pretty shoulders and made a charming grimace. “Then we won’t acknowledge ’em. No Debborough for me!”

“You might put an advertisement in the papers, like the ‘next of kin’ notice, intimating, in the regular way, that they would ‘hear of something to their advantage’–as they certainly would,” continued the consul, with a bow. “It would be such a refreshing change to the kind of thing I’m accustomed to, don’t you know–this idea of one of my countrywomen coming over just to benefit English relatives! By Jove! I wouldn’t mind undertaking the whole thing for you–it’s such a novelty.” He was quite carried away with the idea.

But the two ladies were far from participating in this joyous outlook. “No,” said Mrs. Desborough promptly, “that wouldn’t do. You see,” she went on with superb frankness, “that would be just giving ourselves away, and saying who WE were before we found out what THEY were like. Mr. Desborough was all right in HIS way, but we don’t know anything about his FOLKS! We ain’t here on a mission to improve the Desboroughs, nor to gather in any ‘lost tribes.'”

It was evident that, in spite of the humor of the situation and the levity of the ladies, there was a characteristic national practicalness about them, and the consul, with a sigh, at last gave the address of one or two responsible experts in genealogical inquiry, as he had often done before. He felt it was impossible to offer any advice to ladies as thoroughly capable of managing their own affairs as his fair countrywomen, yet he was not without some curiosity to know the result of their practical sentimental quest. That he should ever hear of them again he doubted. He knew that after their first loneliness had worn off in their gregarious gathering at a London hotel they were not likely to consort with their own country people, who indeed were apt to fight shy of one another, and even to indulge in invidious criticism of one another when admitted in that society to which they were all equally strangers. So he took leave of them on their way back to London with the belief that their acquaintance terminated with that brief incident. But he was mistaken.