“Mine’s Bevan, if that’ll be any help.”
“Thanks very much, old chap. Great help! Mine’s Byng. Reggie Byng. Well, as we’re all pals here and the meeting’s tiled and so forth, I’ll start by saying that the mater is most deucedly set on my marrying Lady Maud. Been pals all our lives, you know. Children together, and all that sort of rot. Now there’s nobody I think a more corking sportsman than Maud, if you know what I mean, but—this is where the catch comes in—I’m most frightfully in love with somebody else. Hopeless, and all that sort of thing, but still there it is. And all the while the mater behind me with a bradawl, sicking me on to propose to Maud who wouldn’t have me if I were the only fellow on earth. You can’t imagine, my dear old chap, what a relief it was to both of us when she told me the other day that she was in love with you, and wouldn’t dream of looking at anybody else. I tell you, I went singing about the place.”
George felt inclined to imitate his excellent example. A burst of song was the only adequate expression of the mood of heavenly happiness which this young man’s revelations had brought upon him. The whole world seemed different. Wings seemed to sprout from Reggie’s shapely shoulders. The air was filled with soft music. Even the wallpaper seemed moderately attractive.
He mixed himself a second whisky and soda. It was the next best thing to singing.
“I see,” he said. It was difficult to say anything. Reggie was regarding him enviously.
“I wish I knew how the deuce fellows set about making a girl fall in love with them. Other chappies seem to do it, but I can’t even start. She seems to sort of gaze through me, don’t you know. She kind of looks at me as if I were more to be pitied than censured, but as if she thought I really ought to do something about it. Of course, she’s a devilish brainy girl, and I’m a fearful chump. Makes it kind of hopeless, what?”
George, in his new-born happiness, found a pleasure in encouraging a less lucky mortal.
“Not a bit. What you ought to do is to—”
“Yes?” said Reggie eagerly.
George shook his head.
“No, I don’t know,” he said.
“Nor do I, dash it!” said Reggie.
“It seems to me it’s purely a question of luck. Either you’re lucky or you’re not. Look at me, for instance. What is there about me to make a wonderful girl love me?”
“Nothing! I see what you mean. At least, what I mean to say is—”
“No. You were right the first time. It’s all a question of luck. There’s nothing anyone can do.”
“I hang about a good deal and get in her way,” said Reggie. “She’s always tripping over me. I thought that might help a bit.”
“It might, of course.”
“But on the other hand, when we do meet, I can’t think of anything to say.”