THE FACE AT THE WINDOW
Mr. Weatherley laid his hand upon his young companion’s arm as they crossed the hall on their way from the dining-room.
“We are going to play bridge in the music-room,” he announced. “Things are different, nowadays, than when I was a boy. The men and the women, too, have to smoke cigarettes all the time while they play cards. A bad habit, Chetwode! A very bad habit indeed! I’ve nothing to say against a good Havana cigar in the dining-room or the smoking-room, but this constant cigarette smoking sickens me. I can’t bear the smell of the things. Here we are. I don’t know what table my wife has put you at, I’m sure. She arranges all these things herself.”
Several guests who had arrived during the last few minutes were already playing at various tables. Mrs. Weatherley was moving about, directing the proceedings. She came across to them as soon as they entered, and, laying her hand upon Arnold’s arm, drew him on one side. There was a smile still upon her lips but trouble in her eyes. She looked over her shoulder a little nervously and Arnold half unconsciously followed the direction of her gaze. Rosario was standing apart from the others, talking earnestly with Starling.
“I want you to stay with me, if you please,” she said. “I am not sure where you will play, but there is no hurry. I myself shall not sit down at present. There are others to arrive.”
Her brother, who had been talking languidly to Lady Blennington, came slowly up to them.
“You, Andrea, will wait for the baccarat, of course?” she said. “I know that this sort of bridge does not amuse you.”
He answered her with a little shrug of the shoulders and, leaning towards her, spoke a few words in some tongue which Arnold did not at once recognize. She looked again over her shoulder at Rosario and her face clouded. She replied in the same tongue. Arnold would have moved away, but she detained him.
“You must not mind,” she said softly, “that my brother and I talk sometimes in our native language. You do not, by chance, know Portuguese, Mr. Chetwode?”
“Not a word,” he replied.
“I am going to leave all these people to amuse themselves,” she continued, dropping her voice slightly. “I want you to come with me for a moment, Mr. Chetwode. You must take care that you do not slip. These wooden floors are almost dangerous. I did give a dance here once,” she continued, as they made their way across the room, talking a little vaguely and with an obvious effort. “I did not enjoy it at all. To me the style of dancing in this country seems ungraceful. Look behind, Mr. Chetwode. Tell me, is Mr. Rosario following us?”
Arnold glanced over his shoulder. Rosario was still standing in the same place, but he was watching them intently.
“He is looking after us, but he has not moved,” Arnold announced.