“You are to go straight in,” she said, with a smile, to Waymark, “and are to tell the first person you meet that three people want dinner. There’s no choice—roast beef and vegetables, and some pudding or other afterwards. Then you are to walk straight upstairs, as if you knew your way, and we will follow.”
These directions were obeyed, with the result that all reached an upper chamber, wherein a table was cleanly and comfortably laid, as if expecting them. French windows led out on to a quaint little verandah at the back of the house, and the view thence was perfect. The river below, winding between wooded banks, and everywhere the same splendour of varied green which had delighted their eyes all the morning. Just below the verandah was the tiled roof of an outhouse, whereon lay a fine black and white cat, basking in the hot sun. Ida clapped her hands.
“He’s like poor old Grim,” she cried. Then, turning to Waymark: “If you are good, you may bring out a chair and smoke a cigar here after dinner.”
They had just began to eat, when footsteps were heard coining up the stairs.
“Oh bother!” exclaimed Sally. “There’s some one else a-comin’, s’nough.”
There was. The door opened, and two gentlemen walked in. Waymark looked up, and to his astonishment recognised his old friends O’Gree and Egger. Mr. O’Gree was mopping his face with a handkerchief, and looked red and hungry; Mr. Egger was resplendent in a very broad-brimmed straw hat, the glistening newness of which contrasted with the rest of his attire, which had known no variation since his first arrival at Dr. Tootle’s. He, too, was perspiring profusely, and, as he entered, was just in the act of taking out the great yellow handkerchief which Waymark had seen him chewing so often in the bitterness of his spirit.
“Hollo, Waymark, is it you?” cried Mr. O’Gree, forgetting the presence of the strangers in his astonishment. “Sure, and they told us we’d find a gentleman here.”
“And I was the last person you would have thought of as answering that description?”
“Well, no, I didn’t mean that. I meant there was no mention of the ladies.”
Waymark flashed a question at Ida with his eyes, and understood her assent in the smile and slight motion of the head.
“Then let me introduce you to the ladies.”
The new-comers accordingly made the acquaintance of Miss Starr and Miss Fisher (that was Sally’s name), and took seats at the table, to await the arrival of their dinners. Both were on their good behaviour. Mr. O’Gree managed to place himself at Sally’s left hand, and led the conversation with the natural ease of an Irishman, especially delighted if Sally herself seemed to appreciate his efforts to be entertaining.
“Now, who’d have thought of the like of this.” he exclaimed. “And we came in here by the merest chance; sure, there’s a fatality in these things. We’ve walked all the way from Hammersmith.”