Ayala's arrival at Stalham was full of delight to her. There was Nina with all her new-fledged hopes and her perfect assurance in the absolute superiority of Lord George Bideford to any other man either alive or dead. Ayala was quite willing to allow this assurance to pass current, as her Angel of Light was as yet neither alive nor dead. But she was quite certain -- wholly certain -- that when the Angel should come forth he would be superior to Lord George. The first outpourings of all this took place in the carriage as Nina and Ayala were driven from the station to the house, while the Colonel went home alone in a dog-cart. It had been arranged that nothing should be said to Ayala about the Colonel, and in the carriage the Colonel's name was not mentioned. But when they were all in the hall at Stalham, taking off their cloaks and depositing their wraps, standing in front of the large fire, Colonel Stubbs was there. Lady Albury was present also, welcoming her guests, and Sir Harry, who had already come home from hunting, with one or two other men in red coats and top breeches, and a small bevy of ladies who were staying in the house. Lady Albury was anxious to know how her friend had sped with Ayala, but at such a moment no question could be asked. But Ayala's spirits were so high that Lady Albury was at a loss to understand whether the whole thing had been settled by Jonathan with success -- or whether, on the other hand, Ayala was so happy because she had not been troubled by a word of love.
"He has behaved so badly, Lady Albury," said Ayala.
"What -- Stubbs?" asked Sir Harry, not quite understanding all the ins and outs of the matter.
"Yes, Sir Harry. There was an old lady and an old gentleman. They were very funny and he would laugh at them."
"Why shouldn't he laugh at them if they were funny?" asked Lady Albury.
"He knew it would make me laugh out loud. I couldn't help myself, but he could be as grave as a judge all the time. So he went on till the old woman scolded me dreadfully."
"But the old man took your part," said the Colonel.
"Yes -- he did. He said that I was ornamental."