“Oh, I hope not the last time!”
“Yes, yes,” he said a little testily; “unless—and I pray it may not be so—unless you ever need the help of an old friend.”
“Dear Signor Graziano!”
“And now you will sing me my ’Nobil Amore’?”
“I will do anything you like!”
The signorino sighed and looked at her for a minute. Then he led her into the little parlour where Madame Petrucci was singing shrilly in the twilight.
A. MARY F. ROBINSON.
“But why not? There isn’t a soul in London—who’s to see? What harm is there in it?”
“Oh, none of course—a cup of tea is a cup of tea, and whether you drink it here or there, what matter!—only—well, the thing I think of is, would Rowley mind?”
“Mind his own business, I should say, rather I That’s what they have to swear to do in the marriage service, haven’t they?”
The lady to whom this question was addressed, Mrs. Rowley Dacres, shook her head reprovingly. She was young and very pretty; and Teddy Vere—known among certain of his friends as the Fledgeling—was not averse to seeing her make a pretence of being angry.
“Don’t let me hear you speak so flippantly of matrimony,” she began severely; “and for your future edification, it is not the man but the woman who swears to obey.”
“Then why in Heaven’s name don’t you do as I bid you?”
“As you bid me! Come, that’s rather strong form, I must say! You’re not Rowley, are you?”
“No, worse luck for me, I’m not,” and the good-looking fair face put on such an intensely woebegone expression that the resolution of the beholder gave way.
Poor boy! it really was dreadfully unlucky that be should be so desperately in love with her, more especially since Rowley had taken to be absurdly jealous of him, as if—now that she was married—she could ever think seriously of anybody. Only after you’d been brought up—to cut your teeth, as one might say—flirting, well, it was just a little bit hard to give it up at twenty-three. Besides, it wasn’t as if she meant anything—except in Rowley’s case she never had; and as far as Teddy went, scores of mothers had said before her, dozens of times, that they were only too delighted to see their sons attach themselves to a married lady—it kept them out of harm’s way; so that instead of mischief, it was a service she was doing Teddy. The two had been of the same party during Goodwood week. Teddy had joined them after on board Lord Datchett’s yacht at Cowes; and, his leave up, and he forced to stop in London during the end of August, what more natural than that when she came up to town for a few days’ shopping, Teddy should offer to act escort to her?—it was such a pleasure to him, poor fellow! And as there wasn’t a single soul left to see them, what harm could there be!