Sir Joshua said: ‘Sit down, Frank. Monica and I have been discussing her future. We can’t make up our minds whether she is to marry a duke or a belted earl. What are your views on this pressing question?’
‘A belted earl, I think. Provided he’s well enough belted.’
Monica said: ‘Grandpapa is being silly.’
She had a devastating way of saying it; Sir Joshua laughed, slapping his knee and rocking himself forward. It was an odd thing, Bates thought, that he should derive such intense enjoyment from being insulted by a child of seven. Smiling himself, he regarded his father-in-law thoughtfully. He was over seventy, of course, but he looked quite hale. There had been a heart attack, and it was impossible to know what warning Gunning might have given him as to recurrences, but Sir Joshua had accepted the advice of retiring to private life with surprisingly good grace. Was it possible that a man who had spent his life building up an organization like Amalgamated Cables could be willing to abandon it for the company of a quiet pert child?