“I don’t think we can do better than take her advice about the cigar,” said young Ogilvie, as they crossed to Kensington Gardens. “What do you think of her?”
“Of Mrs. Ross?”
“Oh, I think she is a very pleasant woman.”
“Yes, but,” said Mr. Ogilvie, “how did she strike you? Do you think she is as fascinating as some men think her?”
“I don’t know what men think about her,” said Macleod. “It never occurred to me to ask whether a married woman was fascinating or not. I thought she was a friendly woman—talkative, amusing, clever enough.”
They lit their cigars in the cool shadow of the great elms: who does not know how beautiful Kensington Gardens are in June? And yet Macleod did not seem disposed to be garrulous about these new experiences of his; he was absorbed, and mostly silent.
“That is an extraordinary fancy she has taken for Gertrude White,” Mr. Ogilvie remarked.
“Why extraordinary?” the other asked, with sudden interest.
“Oh, well, it is unusual, you know. But she is a nice girl enough, and Mrs. Ross is fond of odd folks. You didn’t speak to old White?—his head is a sort of British Museum of antiquities; but he is of some use to these people—he is such a swell about old armor, and china, and such things. They say he wants to be sent out to dig for Dido’s funeral pyre at Carthage, and that he is only waiting to get the trinkets made at Birmingham.”
They walked on a bit in silence.
“I think you made a good impression on Mrs. Ross,” said Ogilvie, coolly. “You’ll find her an uncommonly useful woman, if she takes a fancy to you; for she knows everybody and goes everywhere, though her own house is too small to entertain properly. By-the-way, Macleod, I don’t think you could have hit on a worse fellow than I to take you about, for I am so little in London that I have become a rank outsider. But I’ll tell you what I’ll do for you if you will go with me to-night to Lord Beauregard’s who is an old friend of mine. I will ask him to introduce you to some people—and his wife gives very good dances—and if any royal or imperial swell comes to town, you’ll be sure to run against him there. I forget who it is they are receiving there to-night; but anyhow you’ll meet two or three of the fat duchesses whom Dizzy adores; and I shouldn’t wonder if that Irish girl were there—the new beauty: Lady Beauregard is very clever at picking people up.”
“Will Miss White be there?” Macleod asked, apparently deeply engaged in probing the end of his cigar.
His companion looked up in surprise. Then a new fancy seemed to occur to him, and he smiled very slightly.
“Well, no,” said he, slowly, “I don’t think she will. In fact, I am almost sure she will be at the Piccadilly Theatre. If you like, we will give up Lady Beauregard, and after dinner go to the Piccadilly Theatre instead. How will that do?”