The room was full, and very full; but Lostwithiel was not there. Isola
had an instinctive consciousness that he was[Pg 62] missing in that brilliant crowd. People came buzzing round her, and she was made room for upon a raised bench opposite the gallery where a military band was playing a polka in which the brasses predominated to an ear-splitting extent.
The Glenaveril party made their entrance ten minutes later. The Crowther girls were not afraid of wanting partners. Most young men are glad to dance with half a million of money. There is always an off chance of a good thing, just as there is a chance of breaking the bank at Monte Carlo. Belinda looked superb in a cloud of tulle, like a goddess. Alicia looked too well on horseback to look well off. Her spare straight figure and sharp elbows 长沙桑拿会所推荐 were not at their best in evening dress. She wore black, and an infinity of bugles, and flashed and glittered more than any one else in the room, though she wore never a jewel.
“Worth, my dear,” said Mrs. Baynham to a blue niece, in a mysterious whisper; “I know his style.”
There was a buzz of conversation on that raised divan where the matrons were sitting with those newly arrived maidens who were like ships waiting to slide out of their cradles and float away to sea. Isola and the sky-blue nieces had not long to wait; especially Isola. Men were entreating the stewards to introduce them to that lovely fragile-looking creature in white satin—the best men in the neighbourhood, or those wandering stars from distant counties, or the London galaxy, “men with handles to their names,” as Mr. Baynham told Mrs. Crowther, resplendent 长沙桑拿酒店 in salmon brocade, and Venetian point.
“My presentation gown,” she informed the doctor’s wife; “the Court mantle is ruby velvet, lined with salmon satin. The weight of it almost pulled me backwards when I curtsied to the royalties—such a lot of them, and I’m afraid I curtsied rather too low to one of the Princesses, for I caught her taking me off when she returned my curtsy.”
Isola danced through the lancers as one in a dream. When the heart of a man is oppressed with care, “Ta-rarra, ta-rarra, ta-rà, ta-rà!” What foolishness it all seemed.[Pg 63] And her husband in Burmah, hemmed round by murderous dacoits!
She went back to her seat among the matrons, after almost curtly refusing either refreshment or a promenade through the rooms. Mrs. Crowther was saying solemnly, “I do believe Lord
Lostwithiel is not coming after all, 湖南长沙桑拿论坛 and yet he worked so hard on the committee, my husband said, and took such pains about the flowers, and what not.”
The tall, slim figure cut its way through the crowd two or three minutes later, and Lostwithiel was standing in front of Isola, and the two matrons.
He wore a pink coat, as became a member of the Lostwithiel Hunt, and the vivid colour accentuated the pallor of his long thin face. He talked to all the ladies on the divan; to the sky-blue nieces even, hoping that their cards were full.
“If not, I must bring you some men I know,” he said. “You mustn’t miss a dance.”
They blushed and trembled with delight, never before having been thus familiarly addressed by a peer of the realm. He asked Isola for her programme, with well-simulated indifference, yet with that air of profound respect with
which he talked to all women.
“I hope you can spare me some waltzes,” he said.
“She is only just come,” said Mrs. Baynham.
“And yet her card is almost full. People have been very officious. Here is a poor little waltz—number seven. May I have that, and number eleven, and number——”
“Please don’t put down your name for anything later than number eleven. I shall be gone long before those late dances.”
“Oh, surely, you don’t mean to desert us early. Remember this is the one festive occasion of our lives as a sporting community. All our other meetings are given up to carking care, financial difficulties, and squabbling. I shall put down my name in these tempting blanks, and if you disappoint me—well—it will only be like my previous experiences as a fox-hunter.”