They were standing by one of the old monks' fish stews, which made such a charming feature of the yew-set formal garden, when a step was heard on the path and they turned to see a cheerful-looking gentleman approaching them, with a smile of welcome on his handsome features. He was a tall man of middle-age, dressed in almost exaggerated country fashion, in rough home-spun, very neat about the gaitered legs, and was followed by a bull-dog of ferocious but endearing aspect. "Ah!" he exclaimed, in a loud and breezy voice as he approached them, "I thought it must be you when I saw your name on the order. If you've forgotten me I shall never forgive you."
Grafton was at a loss for a moment. Then his face cleared. "Jimmy Worthing," he said. "Of course. They did mention your name. Cara, this is Mr. Worthing. We were at school together a hundred years or so ago. My eldest daughter, Caroline."
Worthing was enchanted, and said so. He was one of those cheerful voluble men who never do have any difficulty in saying so. With his full but active figure and fresh clean-shaven face he was a pleasant object of the countryside, and Caroline's heart warmed to him as he smiled his commonplaces and showed himself so abundantly friendly. It appeared from the conversation that followed that he had been a small boy in George Grafton's house at Eton when Grafton had been a big one, that they had not met since, except once, years before at Lord's, but were quite pleased to meet now. Also that Worthing had been agent to the Abington property for the past twelve years, and to the Wilborough property adjoining it for about half that time. A good deal of this information was addressed to Caroline with friendly familiarity. She was used to the tone from well-preserved middle-aged men. It was frankly accepted in the family that all three of the girls were particularly attractive to the mature and even the over-ripe male, and the reason given was that they made such a pal of their father that they knew the technique of making themselves so. Caroline had even succeeded in making herself too attractive to a widowed Admiral during her first season, and had had the shock of her life in being asked to step up a generation and a half at the end of it. She was inclined to be a trifle wary of the 'my dears' of elderly gentlemen, but she had narrowly watched Worthing during the process of his explanations and would not have objected if he had called her 'my dear.' He did not do so, however, though his tone to her implied it, and she answered him, where it was necessary, in the frank and friendly fashion that was so attractive in her and her sisters.
They all went over the stables and outhouses together, and then Worthing suggested a run round the estate in the car, with reference chiefly to the rearing and eventual killing of game.