Scene—A London Drawing-room. Time—5 o’clock P.M.
The afternoon tea apparatus in one corner of the room, and Lady Fritterly on a couch in another. The Hon. Mrs Allmash is announced.
Lady Fritterly. How too kind, dear, of you to come, and so early, too! I’ve got such a lot of interesting people coming, and we are going to discuss the religion of the future.
Mrs Allmash. How quite delightful! I do so long for something more substantial than the theologies of the past! It is becoming quite puzzling to know what to teach one’s children: mine are getting old enough now to understand about things, and one ought to teach them something. I was talking about it to that charming Professor Germsell last night.
Lady Fritterly. Well, I hope he is coming presently, so you will be able to continue your conversation. Then there is Mr Coldwaite, the celebrated Comtist; and Mr Fussle, who writes those delightful articles on prehistoric aesthetic evolution; and Mr Drygull, the eminent theosophist, whose stories about esoteric Buddhism are quite too extraordinary, and who has promised to bring a Khoja—a most interesting moral specimen, my dear—who has just arrived from Bombay; and Lord Fondleton.
Mrs Allmash. Lord Fondleton! I did not know that he was interested in such subjects.
Lady Fritterly. He says he is, dear; between ourselves—but this, of course, is strictly entre nous—I rather think that it is I who interest him: but I encourage him, poor fellow; it may wean him from the unprofitable life he is leading, and turn his mind to higher things. Oh! I almost forgot,—–then there is my new beauty!
Mrs Allmash. Your new beauty!
Lady Fritterly. Yes; if you could only have dined with me the other night, you would have met her. I had such a perfect little dinner. Just think! A poet, an actor, a journalist, a painter, a wit, and a new beauty. I’ll tell you how I found her. She really belongs at present to Lady Islington and myself; but of course, now we have started her, all the other people will snap her up. We found that we both owed that vulgar upstart, Mrs Houndsley, a visit, and went there together—because I always think two people are less easily bored than one—when suddenly the most perfect apparition you ever beheld stood before us;—an old master dress, an immense pattern, a large hat rim encircling a face, some rich auburn hair inside, and the face a perfect one. Well, you know, it turned out that she was not born in the purple—her husband is just a clerk in Burley’s Bank; but we both insisted on being introduced to her—for, you see, my dear, there is no doubt about it, she is a ready-made beauty. The same idea occurred to Lady Islington, so we agreed as we drove away that we would bring her out. The result is, that she went to Islington House on Tuesday, and came to me on Thursday, and created a perfect furor on both occasions; so now she is fairly started.