“Adrien is very changeable,” Vermont said reflectively, “one can never count on his movements; following him is like wild duck shooting, down the river on Monday, and up the Fens on Tuesday. I’m sorry I missed him, though, for I have several papers which he must see.”
Lady Constance tried to appear sympathetic.
“It is a pity you weren’t earlier,” she said with a smile. “Still, I daresay you know where to find him.”
“Oh, yes,” returned Mr. Vermont, glancing at her from the corner of his eye, as he aimed his second shaft. “He will be either with Miss Lester or her ladyship; he fluctuates between these two points of happiness as a rule.”
Lady Constance did not appear perturbed in any way by this news.
“Lady Merivale is a charming woman,” she said briefly. “But who is Miss Lester?”
“She is also a charming woman,” was the smooth reply; “but with the difference that she is unattached—save to the theatre.”
“Oh! an actress!” exclaimed his companion with patrician contempt. “That reminds me,” she continued. “What is your last success at the Casket?”
“My success,” echoed Mr. Vermont, with an air of pained astonishment.
“Yes, are you not the manager of that building?” she asked simply.
He bowed and smiled.
“No, Lady Constance,” he said. “I fear the world gives me too much credit. I have nothing to do with this whim of Adrien’s save to pay out the salaries for the company. The management is his—or rather, perhaps, I should say, Miss Lester’s; and I am not answerable for its failure or its successes. I believe, too, he is about to give the whole place to Miss Lester.”
Lady Constance started almost unconsciously, and Jasper knew that his words had hit home at last.
“I am sure you do your best to help him,” she said, after a moment’s pause.
“You are most kind,” he returned with a bow and an ironic smile. “I trust you will let me prove my friendship both to Adrien and yourself.”
It was the night on which Adrien had returned to town. Jessica, ignorant that he had ever left it, had found her way to his chambers, and waited there patiently and hungrily in the hope of once more seeing him. As the clock struck eight she decided that it was useless to remain any longer, and accordingly retraced her steps through the crowded thoroughfares.
Anything would be better than waiting like this, she thought despairingly.
After the silence of the deserted street, the crowds, pushing and jostling her, brought her almost a feeling of satisfaction. Even if she were alone, at least she could not be solitary while the world rushed past her, in its eager search for pleasure.
At one point near Charing Cross a few curious loafers had collected on either side of the brilliantly-lit facade of a theatre, over which, in coloured lights, was the name, “The Casket.”