“It shall be very soon, dear,” whispered Madge, looking up at him with a soft light in her eyes. “If I find him in a good humor I will tell him myself. We are great chums, you know.”
Jack kissed her, and then glanced at his watch.
“Four o’clock,” he said, regretfully. “We must be off.”
He pulled the boat back to Hampton, and ordered the hostler at the Flower Pot to get the trap ready. The world looked different, somehow, to the happy couple, as they drove Londonwards. Love’s young dream had been realized, and they saw no shadow in the future.
The ride home was uneventful until they reached Richmond. Then, on the slope of the hill in front of the Talbot, where the traffic was thick and noisy, a coach with half a dozen young men on top was encountered, evidently bound for a convivial dinner at the Star and Garter or the Roebuck. A well-known young lord was driving, and beside him sat Victor Nevill. He smiled and nodded at Jack, and turned to gaze after his fair companion.
“That was an old friend of mine,” remarked Jack, as the trap passed on. “A jolly good fellow, too.”
“Drive faster, please,” Madge said, abruptly. “I am afraid it is late.”
There was a troubled, half-frightened look on her face, and she was very quiet until the station was reached, where she was sure to get a train to Gunnersbury within a few minutes. She sprang lightly to the pavement, and let her hand rest in Jack’s for a moment, while her eyes, full of unspeakable affection, gazed into his. Then, with a brief farewell, she had vanished down the steps.
“She is mine,” thought Jack, as he drove on toward Kew and Chiswick. “I have won a pearl among women. I think I should kill any man who came between us.”
An attraction in Pall Mall.
There was a counter-attraction in Pall Mall—a rival to Marlborough House, opposite which, ranged along the curb, a number of persons are usually waiting on the chance of seeing the Prince drive out. The rival establishment was the shop of Lamb and Drummond, picture dealers and engravers to Her Majesty. Since nine o’clock that morning, in the blazing May sunshine, there had been a little crowd before the plate glass window, behind which the firm had kindly exposed their latest prize to the public gaze. Newspaper men had been admitted to a private view of the picture, and for a couple of days previous the papers had contained paragraphs in reference to the coming exhibition. Rembrandts are by no means uncommon, nor do all command high prices; but this particular one, which Martin Von Whele had unearthed in Paris, was conceded to be the finest canvas that the master-artist’s brush had produced.
It was the typical London crowd, very much mixed. Some regarded the picture with contemptuous indifference and walked away. Others admired the rich, strong coloring, the permanency of the pigments, and the powerful, ferocious head, either Russian or Polish, that seemed to fairly stand out from the old canvas. A few persons, who were keener critics, envied Lamb and Drummond for the bargain they had obtained at such a small figure.