He took up his cue and scored an excellent break. She followed suit, and he broke down at an easy cannon. Then he came over to her side.
“How do you like Mr. Brooks?” he asked, quietly.
“He seems a nice boy,” she answered, lightly. He remained silent. Suddenly she looked up into his face, and clutched the sides of the table.
“You—you don’t mean that?” she murmured, suddenly pale to the lips.
He led her to a chair. The game was over.
“Some day,” he whispered, “I will tell you the whole story.”
* * * * *
“Even to think of these things,” Sybil said, softly, “makes us feel very selfish.”
“No one is ever hopelessly selfish who is conscious of it,” he answered, smiling. “And, after all, it would not do for every one to be always brooding upon the darker side of life.”
“In another minute,” Molyneux exclaimed, waking up with a start, “I should have been asleep. Whatever have you two been talking about? It was the most soothing hum I ever heard in my life.”
“Mr. Brooks was telling me of some new phases of life,” she answered. “It is very interesting, even if it is a little sad.”
Molyneux eyed them both for a moment in thoughtful silence.
“H’m!” he remarked. “Dinner is the next phase of life which will interest me. Has the dressing-bell gone yet?”
“You gross person,” she exclaimed. “You ate so much tea you had to go to sleep.”
“It was the exercise, he insisted.
“You have been standing about all day. I heard you ask for a place without any walking, and where as few people as possible could see you miss your birds.”
“Your ears are a great deal too sharp,” he said. “It was the wind, then.”
“Never mind what it was,” she answered, laughing. “You can go to sleep again if you like.”
Molyneux put up his eyeglass and looked from one to the other. He saw that Sybil’s interest in her companion’s conversation was not assumed, and for the first time he appreciated Brooks’ good looks. He shook off his sleepiness at once and stood by Sybil’s side.
“Have you been trying to convert Lady Sybil?” he asked.
“It is unnecessary,” she answered, quickly. “Mr. Brooks and I are on the same side.”
He laughed softly and strolled away. Lord Arranmore was standing thoughtfully before the marking-board. He laid his hand upon his arm.
“I say, Arranmore,” he asked, “who the devil is Brooks?”
MR. BULLSOM GIVES A DINNER-PARTY
“God bless my soul!” Mr. Bullsom exclaimed. “Listen to this.” Mrs. Bullsom, in a resplendent new dress, looking shinier and fatter than ever, was prepared to listen to anything which might relieve the tension of the moment. For it was the evening of the dinner-party, and within ten minutes of the appointed time. Mr. Bullsom stood under the incandescent light and read aloud “The shooting-party at Enton yesterday consisted of the Marquis of Arranmore, the Hon. Sydney Molyneux, Mr. Hennibul, K.C., and Mr. Kingston Brooks. Notwithstanding the high wind an excellent bag was obtained.”