The newcomers soon divested themselves of their immense dark cloaks, and they, too, appeared in showy apparel of silk and satin, with tiny bows of ribands at the ends of the long curls which fell both sides of their faces, and with enormous frills of lace inside the turned-over tops of their boots.
Lord Walterton quite straddled in his gait, so wide were his boot tops, and there was an extraordinary maze of tags and ribands round the edge of Sir James Overbury’s breeches.
“Make your game, gentlemen, make your game,” said the latter as he advanced further into the room. And his tired, sleepy eyes brightened at sight of the several tables covered with cards and dice, the guttering candles, the mountains of gold and small coin scattered on the green baize tops.
“Par Dieu! but ’tis a sight worth seeing after the ugly sour faces one meets in town these days!” he added, gleefully rubbing his beringed hands one against the other.
“But where is our gracious hostess?” added Lord Walterton, a melancholy-looking young man with pale-colored eyes and lashes, and a narrow chest.
“You are thrice welcome, my lord!” said Editha de Chavasse, whose elegant figure now detached itself from amongst her guests.
She looked very handsome in her silken kirtle of a brilliant greenish hue, lace primer, and high-heeled shoes—relics of her theatrical days; her head was adorned with the bunches of false curls which the modish hairdressers were trying to introduce. The plentiful use of cosmetics had obliterated the ravages of time and imparted a youthful appearance to her face, whilst excitement not unmixed with apprehension lent a bright glitter to her dark eyes.
Lord Walterton and Sir James Overbury lightly touched with their lips the hand which she extended to them. Their bow, too, was slight, though they tossed their curls as they bent their heads in the most approved French fashion. But there was a distinct note of insolence, not altogether unmixed with irony, in the freedom with which they had greeted her.
“I met de Chavasse in town to-day,” said Lord Walterton, over his shoulder before he mixed with the crowd.
“Yes! he will be here to-night,” she rejoined. Sir James Overbury also made a casual remark, but it was evident that the intention and purpose of these gay gentlemen was not the courteous entertainment of their hostess. Like so many men of all times and all nations in this world, they were ready enough to enjoy what she provided for them—the illicit pastime which they could not get elsewhere—but they despised her for giving it them, and cared naught for the heavy risks she ran in keeping up this house for their pleasure.
A GAME OF PRIMERO
At a table in the immediate center of the room a rotund gentleman in doublet and breeches of cinnamon brown taffeta and voluminous lace cuffs at the wrists was presiding over a game of Spanish primero.