**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Forbidden Buzzards
by [?]

“IS matchmaking at all in your line?”

Hugo Peterby asked the question with a certain amount of personal interest.

“I don’t specialise in it,” said Clovis; “it’s all right while you’re doing it, but the after-effects are sometimes so disconcerting – the mute reproachful looks of the people you’ve aided and abetted in matrimonial experiments. It’s as bad as selling a man a horse with half a dozen latent vices and watching him discover them piecemeal in the course of the hunting season. I suppose you’re thinking of the Coulterneb girl. She’s certainly jolly, and quite all right as far as looks go, and I believe a certain amount of money adheres to her. What I don’t see is how you will ever manage to propose to her. In all the time I’ve known her I don’t remember her to have stopped talking for three consecutive minutes. You’ll have to race her six times round the grass paddock for a bet, and then blurt your proposal out before she’s got her wind back. The paddock is laid up for hay, but if you’re really in love with her you won’t let a consideration of that sort stop you, especially as it’s not your hay.”

“I think I could manage the proposing part right enough,” said Hugo, “if I could count on being left alone with her for four or five hours. The trouble is that I’m not likely to get anything like that amount of grace. That fellow Lanner is showing signs of interesting himself in the same quarter. He’s quite heartbreakingly rich and is rather a swell in his way; in fact, our hostess is obviously a bit flattered at having him here. If she gets wind of the fact that he’s inclined to be attracted by Betty Coulterneb she’ll think it a splendid match and throw them into each other’s arms all day long, and then where will my opportunities come in? My one anxiety is to keep him out of the girl’s way as much as possible, and if you could help me – “

“If you want me to trot Lanner round the countryside, inspecting alleged Roman remains and studying local methods of bee culture and crop raising, I’m afraid I can’t oblige you,” said Clovis. “You see, he’s taken something like an aversion to me since the other night in the smoking-room.”

“What happened in the smoking-room?”

“He trotted out some well-worn chestnut as the latest thing in good stories, and I remarked, quite innocently, that I never could remember whether it was George II. or James II. who was so fond of that particular story, and now he regards me with politely- draped dislike. I’ll do my best for you, if the opportunity arises, but it will have to be in a roundabout, impersonal manner.”

* * * *

“It’s so nice having Mr. Lanner here,” confided Mrs. Olston to Clovis the next afternoon; “he’s always been engaged when I’ve asked him before. Such a nice man; he really ought to be married to some nice girl. Between you and me, I have an idea that he came down here for a certain reason.”

“I’ve had much the same idea,” said Clovis, lowering his voice; “in fact, I’m almost certain of it.”

“You mean he’s attracted by – ” began Mrs. Olston eagerly.

“I mean he’s here for what he can get,” said Clovis.

“For what he can GET?” said the hostess with a touch of indignation in her voice; “what do you mean? He’s a very rich man. What should he want to get here?”

“He has one ruling passion,” said Clovis, “and there’s something he can get here that is not to be had for love nor for money anywhere else in the country, as far as I know.”

“But what? Whatever do you mean? What is his ruling passion?”