“I do love dancing,” she said, as they went along very well. She was so surprised that this “grave and reverend signor,” as she called him, should be able to valse!
“So do I,” said Francis Markrute—“under certain circumstances. This is one of them.” And then he suddenly held her rather tight, and laughed. “Think of it all!” he went on. “Here we are, in thick boots and country clothes capering about like savages round their fire, and, for all sorts of reasons, we all love it!”
“It is just the delicious exercise with me,” said Lady Ethelrida.
“And it has nothing at all to do with that reason with me,” returned her partner.
And Lady Ethelrida quivered with some sort of pleasure and did not ask him what his reason was. She thought she knew, and her eyes sparkled. They were the same height, and he saw her look; and as they went on, he whispered:
“I have brought you down the book we spoke of, you know, and you will take it from me, won’t you? Just as a remembrance of this day and how you made me young for an hour!”
They stopped by one of the benches at the side and sat down, and Lady Ethelrida answered softly,
“Yes, if—you wish me to—”
Lord Elterton had now dislodged Young Billy and was waltzing with Zara himself: his whole bearing was one of intense devotion, and she was actually laughing and looking up in his face, still affected by the general hilarity, when the door of the wooden porch that had been built on as an entrance opened noiselessly, and some of the shooters peeped into the room. It had been too impossibly wet to go on, and they had sent the ladies back in the motors and had come across the park on their way home, and, hearing the sound of music, had glanced in. Tristram was in front of the intruders and just chanced to catch his bride’s look at her partner, before either of them saw they were observed.
He felt frightfully jealous. He had never before seen her so smiling, to begin with, and never at all at himself. He longed to kick Arthur Elterton! Confounded impertinence!—And what tommyrot—dancing like this, in the afternoon with boots on! And when they all stopped and greeted the shooters, and crowded round the fire, he said, in a tone of rasping sarcasm—in reply to Jimmy Danvers’ announcement that they were back in the real life of a castle in the Middle Ages:
“Any one can see that! You have even got My Lady’s fool. Look at Arthur—with mud on his boots—jumping about!”
And Lord Elterton felt very flattered. He knew his old friend was jealous, and if he were jealous then the charming, cold lady must have been unbelievingly nice to him, and that meant he was getting on!
“You are jealous because your lovely bride prefers me, Young Lochinvar,” and he laughed as he quoted:
faithful in love and so dauntless in war—
There ne’er was a gallant like Young Lochinvar!’”