We crossed the road and entered the walk he had mentioned.
It was a beautiful day. The great sun flamed out of a perfect sky, and there was little or no wind. With the exception of a riding-master and two little girls The Row was empty, but the walk was as crowded as a comfortably filled ball-room, if you except the dancers who are sitting out; for, while three could walk abreast with small inconvenience either to others or themselves, there was hardly a seat to spare.
I have seen smarter parades. It was clear that many habitues had already left Town, and that a number of visitors had already arrived. But there was apparent the same quiet air of gaiety, the same good humour which fine feathers bring, and, truth to tell, less ennui and more undisguised enjoyment than I can ever remember.
Idly I talked with Jill, not thinking what I said nor noticing what she answered, but my heart was pounding against my ribs, and I was glancing incessantly from side to side in a fever of fear lest I should miss the obvious.
Now and again I threw a look over my shoulder. Always Berry and Daphne were close behind. Fervently I wished that they were in front.
I began to walk more slowly....
Suddenly I realized that I was streaming with sweat.
As I felt for my handkerchief—
“Look at Nobby,” said Jill. “Whatever’s he doing?”
I glanced at my cousin to follow the direction of her eyes.
Nobby was sitting up, begging, before a large elderly gentleman who was seated, immaculately dressed, some six paces away. He was affecting not to see the terrier, but there was a queer frozen look about his broad smile that set me staring. Even as I gazed he lowered his eyes and lifting a hand from his knee, began to regard the tips of his fingers, as though they were ungloved....
For a second I stood spellbound.
Then I took off my hat.
HOW ADELE FESTE ARRIVED, AND MR. DUNKLESBAUM SUPPED WITH THE DEVIL.
“There she is!” cried Jill.
“Where?” said I, screwing up my eyes and peering eagerly at the crowded taffrails.
“There, Boy, there. Look, she’s seen us. She’s waving.”
Hardly I followed the direction of my cousin’s pink index finger, which was stretched quivering towards the promenade deck.
“Is that her in blue?”
But a smiling Jill was already nodding and waving unmistakably to the tall slim figure, advances which the latter was as surely returning with a cheerly wave of her slight blue arm. Somewhat sheepishly I took off my hat.
Adele Feste had arrived.