‘Now then, fellow Athenians, chorush, chorush!’ With an indescribable medley of discordant howling the party broke into a series of ’Moon, Moon, boo-oo-ooful Moon,’ which came to an abrupt ending as the singer fell back, apparently unconscious, in the arms of his friends. There was a murmuring of voices, and a waiter was sent for some water to revive the young man.
Considerably disgusted at the ending to the incident, Selwyn, who had turned to look towards the cabinet particulier, once more sought his companion’s eyes.
Her face was white; there was not a vestige of colour in the cheeks.
‘Miss Durwent,’ he gasped, ‘you are not well.’
‘I am quite well,’ she answered quickly, but her voice was weak and quivering. ’I—I thought I recognised the singer’s voice. That was all.’
The curtain of the cabinet particulier was drawn aside, and two youths in evening-dress emerged, supporting between them the dishevelled singer, who was miserably drunk, and whose hat almost completely obscured his right eye. They were followed by three girls with untidy hair, whose flushed, rouged faces had been made grotesque by clumsy dabs of powder.
The singer’s hat fell off, and Monsieur Beauchamp, who was hovering about with the bill, had just stooped to recover it, when Selwyn heard, a suppressed cry of pain from Elise Durwent. Thrusting her chair away from her, she made for the emerging party, and halted them at the top of the stairway.
‘Dick!’ she said breathlessly. ‘Dick!’
The drunken youth raised his heavy eyelids and looked with bewildered eyes at his sister. One of the girls tried to laugh, but there was something in the insane lightness of his eyes and the agony of hers that stifled the ribaldry in its birth. His face was as pale as hers, a pallor that was accentuated by dark hair, matted impotently over his forehead. But there was a careless, debonair charm about the fellow that made him stand out apart from the other revellers.
‘Hello, sis!’ he muttered, trying to pull himself together. ’My li’l sister Elise—friends of mine here—forget their names, but jolly good fellosh—and ladies too; nice li’l ladies’——
‘Bravo, Durwent!’ cried one of his friends, emitting a dismal howl of encouragement.
‘Dick! Boy-blue!’ The breathy intensity of her voice seemed to rouse some latent manhood in her brother. He stiffened his shoulders and threw off his two supporting friends—a manoeuvre which enabled Monsieur Beauchamp to present his trifling bill to the more sober of the two. ‘Why aren’t you at Cambridge?’
‘Advice of conshul,’ he muttered. ‘Refushe to answer.’ He shook his head solemnly from side to side.
With a swift gesture she turned to the American. ‘This is my brother,’ she said, ’and I know where his rooms are in town. If you will bring my cloak, I’ll get him to my car and take him home.’