Barren Corn

by Georgette Heyer

Cover Picture "It means, my dear that when Uncle Charles dies, you will be Lady Salinger."

"M-me? L-lady Salinger?" she stammered. "I'm the heir." She put up her hand to her head. "I - I never thought of that."

"No. But it is so. It rather changes things."

"I feel all topsy-tourvey, she said. You'll - you'll be Lord Salinger?"

"One day."

She sat silent, staring at him, her face redder than ever. "I- I think I'll go and take my hat off," she said at last, because just then there seemed to be nothing more to say. When she joined Hugh again on the loggia she was grave and silent. He sat frowning across the garden, and his pipe had gone out. Laura had brought her work-basket and she began darning one of his socks. "I suppose the cable didn't say how it happened?" she asked presently.

"No. Mother's writing."

"I shall have to see about mourning," she remarked.

"What on earth for?"

"Well, it doesn't seem right to be flaunting about in colours when - "

"Look here, Laura, you've never set eyes on Roland!"

"No, but - "

"Then why this desire to go into black?"

"But, Hughie, it's your own cousin!"

"My dear girl, the only point in wearing mourning is to show people that you've lost someone, so they shan't drop any bricks. As we don't know a soul here - "

"It isn't quite that, dear."

"What is it, then?"

"Well, it's - respect."

"For whom, Roland or my uncle?"


"My uncle can't see us, (not that he'd want us to be in mourning if he could; he hates that sort of thing,) and Roland, if he sees us won't care a hoot by this time. Or will he?" Hugh knocked out his pipe. "I wonder if Roland, wherever he is, still retains his conventional instincts?"

"Hugh! For goodness' sake - !"

"I'd like to know where he is," Hugh continued ruminatively. "He can't have gone to the appalling place you call Heaven, because he'd think it the acme of bad form to sit about in flowing robes, playing on a harp. And he can't have gone to the other appalling place you call Hell, because for one thing he's a very good chap, and for another it's just as bad form as Heaven."

"Hughie, I can't sit here and listen to you talking like that. It's horrible!"

"I don't see why. I'm convinced Roland is somewhere, and I'm equally convinced he hasn't altered at all, so why shouldn't I talk of him as I've always done? It's absurd to think he's become a saint suddenly."

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