Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/30

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

important declarations from us; the Cabinet intend to send instructions to invite Turkey, command her rather, to ——"

"My dear Duke, it is not for me to know what I take out; it is sufficient that I deliver it safely," laughed Erceldoune, to check the outpourings of his Grace's garrulous tongue. I am no politician and diplomatist, as you know well. I prefer hard riding to soft lying in either sense of the word."

"Wish everybody else did!" said the Duke. If men would keep to their own concerns and live as they ought, with plenty of sport and fresh air, everything would go smoothly enough. There'd be no marring or meddling then; as for this Cabinet, it's just what Clarendon said of Bristol: 'For puzzling and spoiling a thing, there was never his equal.' If the despatches you will carry to Moldavia don't embroil Europe, it won't be his fault, but there'll be sure to be a postscript to 'em all, meaning, 'N.B. In no case will we fight!'"

"Who is severe now, Duke? On my honour, you will make me feel as if I were Discord incarnate flying over Europe with her firebrand. I never took so poetic a side of the service before."

He strove to arrest the reckless course of incautious revelations of the intentions in high places,