Every delicacy out of season was duly provided. Waiters carried bottles of ancient and royal vintage with loving care. The floral decorations defied the seasons, and fruits of the earth as far apart as May and November found themselves miraculously side by side. The list of guests was small and select. The American Ambassador, Mr. Carter, who had taken the liberty, he said, of bringing an old friend, Sir William Beresford, with him, Archdeacon Cowley, Dr. Hall, those two youthful adventurers, Miss Prudence Cowley and Mr. Thomas Beresford, and last, but not least, as guest of honour, Miss Jane Finn.
Julius had spared no pains to make Jane’s appearance a success. A mysterious knock had brought Tuppence to the door of the apartment she was sharing with the American girl. It was Julius. In his hand he held a cheque.
“Say, Tuppence,” he began, “will you do me a good turn? Take this, and get Jane regularly togged up for this evening. You’re all coming to supper with me at the Savoy. See? Spare no expense. You get me?”
“Sure thing,” mimicked Tuppence. “We shall enjoy ourselves. It will be a pleasure dressing Jane. She’s the loveliest thing I’ve ever seen.”
“That’s so,” agreed Mr. Hersheimmer fervently.
His fervour brought a momentary twinkle to Tuppence’s eye.
“By the way, Julius,” she remarked demurely, “I—haven’t given you my answer yet.”
“Answer?” said Julius. His face paled.
“You know—when you asked me to—marry you,” faltered Tuppence, her eyes downcast in the true manner of the early Victorian heroine, “and wouldn’t take no for an answer. I’ve thought it well over——”
“Yes?” said Julius. The perspiration stood on his forehead.
Tuppence relented suddenly.
“You great idiot!” she said. “What on earth induced you to do it? I could see at the time you didn’t care a twopenny dip for me!”
“Not at all. I had—and still have—the highest sentiments of esteem and respect—and admiration for you——”
“H’m!” said Tuppence. “Those are the kind of sentiments that very soon go to the wall when the other sentiment comes along! Don’t they, old thing?”
“I don’t know what you mean,” said Julius stiffly, but a large and burning blush overspread his countenance.
“Shucks!” retorted Tuppence. She laughed, and closed the door, reopening it to add with dignity: “Morally, I shall always consider I have been jilted!”
“What was it?” asked Jane as Tuppence rejoined her.
“What did he want?”
“Really, I think, he wanted to see you, but I wasn’t going to let him. Not until to-night, when you’re going to burst upon every one like King Solomon in his glory! Come on! We’re going to shop!”