“Yes, his father’s house,” the gossip continued in answer to a question from her companion. “A young man of great promise. He took silk last year, and is safe for a place in the Cabinet sooner or later.”
“Our Frank,” Anne whispered.
I nodded and waited eagerly, although I had not, then, realised my own connection with the story.
“Oh! yes, that other affair was four years ago—nothing to do with the dear Jervaises, except for the unfortunate fact that they were entertaining him at the time. He ran away with a farmer’s daughter; eloped with her in the middle of a dance the Jervaises were giving. Never seen her before that evening, I believe. The father was one of the Jervaises’ tenants.... A superior kind of young woman in some ways, I’ve heard; and a friend of the youngest Jervaise girl ... you wouldn’t remember her ... she went with her friend to Australia or somewhere ... some quixotic idea of protecting her, I believe ... and married out there. The farmer’s name was Baggs. The whole family were a trifle queer, and emigrated afterwards ... yes, it was a pity about Melhuish, in a way. He was considered quite a promising young dramatist. This thing of his was a distinct success. Very amusing. But naturally, no one would receive him after he’d married this Baggs girl. Besides which ...”
But at that point the orchestra began, the woman dropped her voice again, and the only other fragment I heard was, “... after the disgraceful scene at the dance ... quite impossible....”
I looked at Anne and was surprised to find that she was white with indignation.
“I must tell them,” she whispered passionately.
“Oh! no, please,” I whispered back. “They wouldn’t believe you. It would only add another shocking detail to the next exposition of the scandal.”
“Detestable people,” she said, in a voice that must have been heard by our gossip, although she evidently did not realise the application of the description to herself and her friend.
“Let’s be thankful,” I whispered to Anne, “that I’m no longer writing this sort of piffle to amuse them. If it hadn’t been for you...”
The two women had left the theatre before the end of the third act, but long before that Anne had seen the humour of this true story of our elopement.
The following pages contain advertisements of a few of the Macmillan books on kindred subjects.
* * * * *
MAY SINCLAIR’S NEW NOVEL
Mary Olivier: A Life
BY MAY SINCLAIR,
Author of “The Tree of Heaven,” etc.
No novel of the war period made a more profound impression than did Miss Sinclair’s “The Tree of Heaven.” The announcement of a new book by this distinguished author is therefore most welcome. “Mary Olivier” is a story in Miss Sinclair’s best manner. Once again she has chosen a theme of vital interest and has treated it with the superb literary skill which has put her among the really great of contemporary novelists.