It was at this moment that Lady Aurelia entered the room, and, halting on the threshold, demanded, in a voice which, without being raised to any vulgar pitch, easily penetrated the hubbub: ‘What, may I ask, is the meaning of this extraordinary scene?’
Such was the effect of her commanding eye, and air of supreme assurance, that Lieutenant Ottershaw found himself, to his subsequent fury, adding his voice to those of Anthea and Vincent, in an attempt to present her ladyship with the explanation she desired.
She seemed to grasp the gist of what was told her with all the rapidity of a powerful intelligence; and, considerably before the various accounts had been brought to their conclusions, paralysed the company by uttering, in icy yet ominous accents: ‘Be silent, if you please! I have heard enough!’
She then swept forward to the sofa, Anthea, Vincent, and the Major giving way instinctively before her, and bent over Claud, feeling his brow, and his wrist. Magnificently ignoring everyone else, she exchanged a few words with Polyphant, who had remained devotedly at the head of the sofa; and, upon Claud’s venturing to open his eyes sufficiently to cast a doubtful, slightly nervous glance up at her, said with calm kindness: ‘You will keep perfectly still, my son: do you understand me? You have no need to trouble yourself about anything, for Mama is here, and will make you better directly.’
She then turned, and looked round the room, with all the lofty contempt natural to the descendant of eleven Earls, all of whom, if not otherwise distinguished, had been remarkable for the high-handed and very successful way with which they had dealt with inferior persons, and overridden all opposition to their domestic decrees. No one saw these august personages range themselves at Lady Aurelia’s back, but (as her appreciative elder son afterwards asserted) no one could doubt that they had all of them hurried to the support of so worthy a daughter. –Georgette Heyer, The Unknown Ajax
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