They each paid a shilling admittance; they were prepared to give munificently besides when the hat came round; and after the first burst of blundering from Lord Lioncourt, they led the magnanimous applause. He said he never minded making a bad speech in a good cause, and he made as bad a one as very well could be. He closed it by telling Mark Twain’s whistling story so that those who knew it by heart missed the paint; but that might have been because he hurried it, to get himself out of the way of the others following. When he had done, one of the most ardent of the Americans proposed three cheers for him.
The actress whom he had secured in spite of Mrs. Milray appeared in woman’s dress contrary to her inveterate professional habit, and followed him with great acceptance in her favorite variety-stage song; and then her husband gave imitations of Sir Henry Irving, and of Miss Maggie Kline in “T’row him down, McCloskey,” with a cockney accent. A frightened little girl, whose mother had volunteered her talent, gasped a ballad to her mother’s accompaniment, and two young girls played a duet on the mandolin and guitar. A gentleman of cosmopolitan military tradition, who sold the pools in the smoking-room, and was the friend of all the men present, and the acquaintance of several, gave selections of his autobiography prefatory to bellowing in a deep bass voice, “They’re hanging Danny Deaver,” and then a lady interpolated herself into the programme with a kindness which Lord Lioncourt acknowledged, in saying “The more the merrier,” and sang Bonnie Dundee, thumping the piano out of all proportion to her size and apparent strength.
Some advances which Clementina had made for Mrs. Milray’s help about the dress she should wear in her dance met with bewildering indifference, and she had fallen back upon her own devices. She did not think of taking back her promise, and she had come to look forward to her part with a happiness which the good weather and the even sway of the ship encouraged. But her pulses fluttered, as she glided into the music room, and sank into a chair next Mrs. Milray. She had on an accordion skirt which she had been able to get out of her trunk in the hold, and she felt that the glance of Mrs. Milray did not refuse it approval.
“That will do nicely, Clementina,” she said. She added, in careless acknowledgement of her own failure to direct her choice, “I see you didn’t need my help after all,” and the thorny point which Clementina felt in her praise was rankling, when Lord Lioncourt began to introduce her.
He made rather a mess of it, but as soon as he came to an end of his well-meant blunders, she stood up and began her poses and paces. It was all very innocent, with something courageous as well as appealing. She had a kind of tender dignity in her dance, and the delicate beauty of her face translated itself into the grace of her movements. It was not impersonal; there was her own quality of sylvan, of elegant in