“He shows excellent judgment,” Lord Romsey observed.
Lady Anselman glanced at her august guest a little querulously.
“That is the principle you go on, nowadays, isn’t it?” she remarked. “I am not sure that you are wise. When one is told nothing, one fears the worst, and when time after time the news of these small disasters reaches us piecemeal, about three weeks late, we never get rid of our forebodings, even when you tell us about victories. . . . Ah! Here he comes at last,” she added, holding out both her hands to the young man who was making his somewhat difficult way towards them. “Ronnie, you are a few minutes late but we’re not in the least cross with you. Do you know that you are looking better already? Come and tell me whom you don’t know of my guests and I’ll introduce you.”
The young man, leaning upon his stick, greeted his aunt and murmured a word of apology. He was very fair, and with a slight, reddish moustache and the remains of freckles upon his face. His grey eyes were a little sunken, and there were lines about his mouth which one might have guessed had been brought out recently by pain or suffering of some sort. His left arm reclined uselessly in a black silk sling. He glanced around the little assembly.
“First of all,” he said, bowing to the French actress and raising her fingers to his lips, “there is no one who does not know Madame Selarne. Lady Patrick, we have met before, haven’t we? I am going to see your husband in his new play the first night I am allowed out. Mr. Daniell I have met, and Lord Romsey may perhaps do me the honour of remembering me,” he added, shaking hands with the Cabinet Minister.
He turned to face Geraldine Conyers, who had been watching him with interest. Lady Anselman at once introduced them.
“I know that you haven’t met Miss Conyers because she has been asking about you. This is my nephew Ronnie, Geraldine. I hope that you will be friends.”
The girl murmured something inaudible as she shook hands. The young soldier looked at her for a moment. His manner became almost serious.
“I hope so, too,” he said quietly.
“Olive, come and make friends with my nephew if you can spare a moment from your young man,” Lady Anselman continued. “Captain Granet—Miss Olive Moreton. And this is Geraldine’s brother—Lieutenant Conyers.”
The two men shook hands pleasantly. Lady Anselman glanced at the clock and turned briskly towards the corridor.
“And now, I think,” she announced, “luncheon.”
As she moved forward, she was suddenly conscious of the man who had been talking to Madame Selarne. He had drawn a little on one side and he was watching the young soldier with a curious intentness. She turned back to her nephew and touched him on the arm.
“Ronnie,” she said, “I don’t know whether you have met Surgeon-Major Thomson in France? Major Thomson, this is my nephew, Captain Granet.”