L.P. Hartley has so beautifully crafted the character of Leo that it's impossible not to feel sorry for the youth. He is a self-conscious boy, ruled by the unspoken codes that ensure his survival at school. Unfortunately these do not transfer to the world of grown-ups. Leo's naivety leaves him utterly confused by the language and social mores of the world in which he finds himself, and leads to a fateful misapprehension of the complexities of adult relationships.
It's perhaps inevitable too, that the misunderstandings provide some humour in the story. An exchange between Leo and Marian is a worthy predecessor of The Two Ronnie's Fork Handles sketch :
Hugh asked me to tell you -
I asked you to tell me?
No, not you, Hugh.
Not you, you, [-] I can't understand a word you say.
No, [-] Hugh, you know, Hugh.
Yes, of course I know myself.
It's not you, it's Viscount Hugh.
Oh, Hugh. [-] How stupid of me.