“Well, now, that’s curious. I’ve been feeling something of an inclination that way myself,” said Lady Elspeth. “I wonder if you’d feel like coming with me, Margaret. I don’t believe we would quarrel.”
“Oh, I would be delighted, dear Lady Elspeth, and I’ll promise not to quarrel whatever you do to me.”
“Who ever heard of sunbeams quarrelling?” said Graeme gaily, with Lady Elspeth’s earlier suggestion to himself dancing in his brain. “But think of London left utterly sunless.”
“London will never miss us,” said Margaret. “It still has bridge, and we are neither of us players.”
And then, having an appointment from which he could not escape, and knowing that they always enjoyed a little personal chat, he reluctantly took his leave, and left them to the discussion of their new plans.
He had met Margaret Brandt for the first time at a Ladies’ Banquet of the Whitefriars Club.
Providence,—I insist upon this. No mere chance set them next to one another at that hospitable board,—Providence, forecasting the future, placed them side by side, and he was introduced to her by his good friend Adam Black, who had the privilege of her acquaintance and sat opposite enjoying them greatly.
For they were both eminently good to look upon;—Margaret, tall and slender, and of a most gracious figure and bearing, with thoughtful, dark-blue eyes, a very charming face accentuated by the characteristics of her northern descent, and a wealth of shining brown hair coiled about her shapely head;—Graeme, tall, clean-built, of an outdoor complexion, with nothing of the student about him save his deep, reflective eyes, and the little lines in the corners which wrinkled up so readily at the overflowing humours of life.
It was Charles Pixley—Charles Svendt Pixley, to accord him fullest justice, which I am most anxious to do—who brought her, and to that extent we are his debtors.
Though why Pixley should be a Whitefriar passes one’s comprehension. His pretensions to literature were, I should say, bounded by his Stock Exchange notebook and his betting-book. He had not even read Graeme’s latest, though it was genuinely in its second—somewhat limited—edition, and he did not even smile affably when Adam Black introduced them. Graeme, however, had no fault to find with him for that. There were others in like dismal case.
Pixley nodded cursorily at the introduction, with a “How-d’ye-do-who-the-deuce-are-you?” expression on his face. He struck Graeme as not bad-looking, in a somewhat over-fed and self-indulgent fashion, and inclined to superciliousness and self-complacency, if not to actual superiority and condescension. It occurred to him afterwards that this might arise from his absorption in his companion, for he turned again at once to Miss Brandt and began chattering like a lively and intelligent parrot.