[Illustration: “‘INDEED I WILL!’ CRIED SIR WILFRID, AND THEY WALKED ON”]
As they stepped out into the frosty, lamp-lit dark of Grosvenor Square, Julie Le Breton turned to her companion.
“You knew my mother and father,” she said, abruptly. “I remember your coming,”
What was in her voice, her rich, beautiful voice? Sir Wilfrid only knew that while perfectly steady, it seemed to bring emotion near, to make all the aspects of things dramatic.
“Yes, yes,” he replied, in some confusion. “I knew her well, from the time when she was a girl in the school-room. Poor Lady Rose!”
The figure beside him stood still.
“Then if you were my mother’s friend,” she said, huskily, “you will hear patiently what I have to say, even though you are Lady Henry’s trustee.”
“Indeed I will!” cried Sir Wilfrid, and they walked on.
“But, first of all,” said Mademoiselle Le Breton, looking in some annoyance at the brace of terriers circling and barking round them, “we must take the dogs home, otherwise no talk will be possible.”
“You have no more business to do?”
His companion smiled.
“Everything Lady Henry wants is here,” she said, pointing to the bag upon her arm which had been handed to her, as Sir Wilfrid remembered, after some whispered conversation, in the hall of Crowborough House by an elegantly dressed woman, who was no doubt the Duchess’s maid.
“Allow me to carry it for you.”
“Many thanks,” said Mademoiselle Le Breton, firmly retaining it, “but those are not the things I mind.”
They walked on quickly to Bruton Street. The dogs made conversation impossible. If they were on the chain it was one long battle between them and their leader. If they were let loose, it seemed to Sir Wilfrid that they ranged every area on the march, and attacked all elderly gentlemen and most errand-boys.
“Do you always take them out?” he asked, when both he and his companion were crimson and out of breath.
“Do you like dogs?”
“I used to. Perhaps some day I shall again.”
“As for me, I wish they had but one neck!” said Sir Wilfrid, who had but just succeeded in dragging Max, the bigger of the two, out of the interior of a pastry-cook’s hand-cart which had been rashly left with doors open for a few minutes in the street, while its responsible guardian was gossiping in an adjacent kitchen. Mademoiselle Julie meanwhile was wrestling with Nero, the younger, who had dived to the very heart of a peculiarly unsavory dust-box, standing near the entrance of a mews.
“So you commonly go through the streets of London in this whirlwind?” asked Sir Wilfrid, again, incredulous, when at last they had landed their charges safe at the Bruton Street door.
“Morning and evening,” said Mademoiselle Julie, smiling. Then she addressed the butler: “Tell Lady Henry, please, that I shall be at home in half an hour.”