The dark little girl looked up into his face with ill-suppressed wonder.
“Have you done preaching at me, Raphael?” inquired Sidney. “If so, pass me a banana.”
Raphael smiled sadly and obeyed.
“I’m afraid if I see much of Raphael I shall be converted to Judaism,” said Sidney, peeling the banana. “I had better take a hansom to the Riviera at once. I intended to spend Christmas there; I never dreamed I should be talking theology in London.”
“Oh, I think Christmas in London is best,” said the hostess unguardedly.
“Oh, I don’t know. Give me Brighton,” said the host.
“Well, yes, I suppose Brighton is pleasanter,” said Mr. Montagu Samuels.
“Oh, but so many Jews go there,” said Percy Saville.
“Yes, that is the drawback,” said Mrs. Henry Goldsmith. “Do you know, some years ago I discovered a delightful village in Devonshire, and took the household there in the summer. The very next year when I went down I found no less than two Jewish families temporarily located there. Of course, I have never gone there since.”
“Yes, it’s wonderful how Jews scent out all the nicest places,” agreed Mrs. Montagu Samuels. “Five years ago you could escape them by not going to Ramsgate; now even the Highlands are getting impossible.”
Thereupon the hostess rose and the ladies retired to the drawing-room, leaving the gentlemen to discuss coffee, cigars and the paradoxes of Sidney, who, tired of religion, looked to dumb show plays for the salvation of dramatic literature.
There was a little milk-jug on the coffee-tray, it represented a victory over Mary O’Reilly. The late Aaron Goldsmith never took milk till six hours after meat, and it was with some trepidation that the present Mr. Goldsmith ordered it to be sent up one evening after dinner. He took an early opportunity of explaining apologetically to Mary that some of his guests were not so pious as himself, and hospitality demanded the concession.
Mr. Henry Goldsmith did not like his coffee black. His dinner-table was hardly ever without a guest.
When the gentlemen joined the ladies, Raphael instinctively returned to his companion of the dinner-table. She had been singularly silent during the meal, but her manner had attracted him. Over his black coffee and cigarette it struck him that she might have been unwell, and that he had been insufficiently attentive to the little duties of the table, and he hastened to ask if she had a headache.