I do not know London very well; but Lady Tilchester had given me the address of the latest and most fashionable dressmaker, and I got into a hansom and drove there.
The garments were pretty, and I ordered several tea-gowns and things they had ready, and, as I was leaving, gave Augustus’s name and address for the account to be sent to. He should receive the bill, as he wished.
I spoke distinctly, and perhaps more loudly than usual, as I find shop-people so stupid with names. A young vendeuse, who heard me as she entered the room, now came up.
“Oh, this is Madam Henriette’s order, Madam Green,” she said to the elder woman who had been attending upon me. “Madam Henriette is engaged just now”—and she turned to me—“but she asked me to tell your ladyship if you should call again to-day that the things will be sent off to-night to join you at Myrlton Castle as you wished. Mr. Gurrage has just been in and left a message that he was sorry to miss your ladyship, but would be at the station.” Then, struck by some look in my face, she said, “The Viscountess Grenellen, is it not?”
The elder vendeuse, who probably knew Lady Grenellen by sight, was green with apprehension that some shocking gaff had been committed.
For one second I hesitated, then:
“The things I have ordered are for Lady Grenellen,” I said, calmly. Mercifully we are about the same height. “You can send them with the others to Myrlton Castle.”
And with a few casual words of admiration about a set of lingerie that was lying on the table, I sauntered out into the street.
I do not know exactly what I felt—a sense of insult, principally.
I did not hate Lady Grenellen, and I did not feel jealous about Augustus. But it all seemed so terribly low.
She, a gentlewoman who must have been brought up with every surrounding that could foster the sentiment of self-respect—she, the Duke of Myrlshire’s cousin, not a parvenue—beautiful, charming, and young—to accept clothes from Augustus!
Oh! To take a lover for love, that one could understand and perhaps pardon. The Marquis was grandmamma’s lover, but—but not a common person like Augustus—for clothes!
“Back to the Carlton, miss?” said the hansom man, breaking in upon my thoughts. Perhaps I looked undecided as I stood in the street.
I glanced at my watch. There would be just time to catch the train.
“Euston,” I said, and I swung to the doors. Then, as I sat there, I realized that my knees were trembling.
At the station Augustus had already arrived, and, under pretence of seeing whether the servants and luggage were all there, he was scanning the platform anxiously for Lady Grenellen.
His face fell when he saw me. Perhaps he hoped she would have arrived first.
I could not prevent myself from speaking in a voice of extra coldness, although I tried hard to be natural. This was not the moment for recriminations. Augustus noticed it, and, as usual, began to bluster.