“They have one in all the best drawing-rooms,” answered Palmerston. “Mrs Bowldler—”
“Oh, go on!” She was beginning to feel jealous, or almost jealous.
“’She was attired
in a gown of old Mechlin, with
a deep fall and an indication of orange blossoms,
and carried a shower bouquet of cluster roses, the—
“No, I’ve scratched that out. It said ‘the gift of the bridegroom,’ and I got it from a fashionable wedding; but it won’t do in this place.”
’Amid these luxurious
surroundings Ernest felt
his brain in a whirl. He cast himself on his knees
before the recumbent figure on the console which
gave no sign of life unless a long-drawn and
half-stifled sob, which seemed to strangle its owner,
might be so interpreted.
“Lady Herm Intrude,” he cried in broken accents, “for
the second time, I love you."’”
“It’s lovely, Palmerston! Lovely!” gasped Fancy. “Why was he loving her for the second time?”
“He was telling her for the second time. He had loved her from the first—it’s all in the early chapters. . . . This is the second time he told her: and he has to do it twice more before the end of the book.”
’As he waited, scarcely daring to breathe, for some answer, he could almost smell the perfume of the orchids which floated from a neighbouring vase and filled the apartment with its high-class articles of furniture, the product of many lands.’
“Oh, Palmerston! And you that never had an ’ome of your own, since you was nine—not even a Scattered one! However did you manage to think of it all?”
She caught the manuscript from him and peered at it, straining her eyes in the dark.
“If you could fetch a lamp now?” she suggested.
But the boy stepped close and stood beside her, dominant.
“You know how I came to do it,” he said. “Yes—I’m glad you like it. I’ll fetch a lamp. But—”
As she pored over the manuscript, he bent and suddenly planted a great awkward kiss on the side of her cheek.
Thereupon he fled in quest of the lamp.
IS IN TWO PARTS.
Cai and ’Bias supped together that night, greatly to Mrs Bowldler’s relief. But they exchanged a very few words during the meal, being poor hands at dissimulation.
The meal, for the third time running, was laid in Cai’s parlour, Mrs Bowldler having delicately elected to ignore the upset caused by the parrot and to treat yesterday as a dies non. ’Bias, if he noted this, made no comment.
The cloth having been removed, they drew their chairs as usual to front the fireplace. Cai arose, found a clean church-warden pipe on the mantelshelf, passed it to ’Bias, and selected one for himself.