Granet promptly abandoned his whispered conversation with Geraldine. The little company moved in and took their places at the round table which was usually reserved for Lady Anselman on Tuesdays.
“Some people,” the latter remarked, as she seated herself, “find fault with me for going on with my luncheons this season. Even Alfred won’t come except now and then. Personally, I have very strong views about it. I think we all ought to keep on doing just the same as usual—to a certain extent, of course. There is no reason why we should bring the hotel proprietors and shopkeepers to the brink of ruin because we are all feeling more or less miserable.”
“Quite right,” her neighbour, Colonel Grey, assented. “I am sure it wouldn’t do us any good out there to feel that you were all sitting in sackcloth and ashes. Besides, think how pleasant this is to come home to,” he added, looking around the little table. “Jove! What a good-looking girl Miss Conyers is!”
Lady Anselman nodded and lowered her voice a little.
“She has just broken her engagement to Surgeon-Major Thomson. I wonder whether you know him?”
“Inspector of Field Hospitals or something, isn’t he?” the other remarked carelessly. “I came across him once at Boulogne. Rather a dull sort of fellow he seemed.”
Lady Anselman sighed.
“I am afraid Geraldine found him so,” she agreed. “Her mother is very disappointed. I can’t help thinking myself, though, that a girl with her appearance ought to do better.”
The Colonel reflected for a moment.
“Seems to me I’ve heard something about Thomson somewhere,” he said, half to himself. “By-the-bye, who is the pale girl with the wonderful eyes, to whom your nephew is making himself so agreeable?”
“That is Isabel Worth,” Lady Anselman replied. “She is the daughter of Sir Meyville Worth, the great scientist. I am afraid she has rather a dull time, poor girl. Her father lives in an out-of-the-way village of Norfolk, spends all his time trying to discover things, and forgets that he has a daughter at all. She has been in London for a few days with an aunt, but I don’t believe that the old lady is able to do much for her.”
“Ronnie seems to be making the running all right,” her neighbour observed.
“I asked him specially to look after her,” Lady Anselman confided, “and Ronnie is always such a dear at doing what he is told.”
Major Harrison leaned across the table towards them.
“Didn’t I hear you mention Thomson’s name just now?” he inquired. “I saw him the other day in Boulogne. Awful swell he was about something, too. A destroyer brought him across, and a Government motor-car was waiting at the quay to rush him up to the Front. We all thought at Boulogne that royalty was coming, at least.”
There was a slight frown on Granet’s forehead. He glanced half unconsciously towards Geraldine.