All the way down to the motor-boat his new pumps sang “Fool-fool! Rotter-rotter!” He climbed the yacht’s ladder and ran into Kitty and her guests, exactly as she had arranged he should.
“Mr. Webb,” she said; and immediately began introducing him, leaving Lord Henry Monckton until the last. A cluster of lights made the spot as bright as day.
Thomas bowed politely and Lord Monckton smiled amiably.
“Mr. Killigrew is in the smoking-room?” Thomas inquired.
Thomas bowed again, indirectly toward the guests and walked away. Lord Monckton commented on the beauty of the night.
And Kitty caught the gasp between her teeth, lest
it should be heard.
“Rather hot for this time of day,” volunteered Lord Monckton, sliding into the Morris chair at the side of Thomas’ desk and dangling his legs over the arm.
“Yes, it is,” agreed Thomas, folding a sheet of paper and placing the little ivory elephant paper-weight upon it.
“Rippin’ doubles this morning. You ought to go into the game. Do you a lot of good.”
“I didn’t know you played.”
Thomas’ gaze was level and steady.
Lord Monckton laughed easily and sought his monocle. He fumbled about the front of his coat and shirt. “By jove! Lost my glass; wonder I can see anything.”
Outside, on the veranda, the two men could see the cluster of women of which Kitty was the most animated flower. Voices carried easily.
“Ah—what do you think of these—ah—Americans?” asked Lord Monckton, as one compatriot to another, leaning toward the desk.
“I think them very kindly, very generous people; at least, those I have met. Have you not found them so?”
“Quite so. I am enjoying myself immensely.” Lord Monckton swung about in the chair, his back to the veranda.
Thomas loosened his negligee linen-collar.
“Ah, really!” drifted into the room. Lord Monckton sleepily eying Thomas, only heard the voice; he did not see, as Thomas did, the action and gesture which accompanied the phrase. Kitty had put something into her eye, squinted, and twisted an imaginary something a few inches below her dimpled chin. It was a hoydenish trick, but Kitty had enacted it for Lord Monckton’s benefit. The women shouted with laughter. Lord Monckton turned in time to see them troop into the gardens. He turned again to Thomas, to find a grin upon that gentleman’s face.
[Illustration: It was a hoydenish trick.]
“Miss Killigrew is rather an unusual young person,” was his comment.
“Uncommon,” replied Thomas, scrutinizing the point of his pen.
“For my part, I prefer ’em clinging.” Lord Monckton rose.
“Rotter!” breathed Thomas. He rearranged his papers, crackling them suggestively.