Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

"It is not true," repeated Irvine to himself. Presently he asked carelessly if Lady Harefel could take him in.

“Of course she can,” said Ned. “I dine at home, and I will stay with you this evening. I don't care about Lady Raddley's dance.”

“My dear boy, I will go with you. She is sure to have sent me a card.”

Edward Harefel looked at his cousin with some surprise. There came to him an uncomfortable suspicion, which he had sometimes felt in old days, but had always dismissed as impossible. He now banished it again, being of a hopeful disposition, and apt to regard as impossible that which was only unpleasant.

PART IV.

CHAPTER XVI.

“IN MAZES OF HEAT AND SOUND.”

LADY RADDLEY'S dance was going beautifully. Everybody said so; and everybody was there. Lady Raddley repeated again and again to her smartest friends that she had been obliged to ask everybody, because people had been so disagreeable about her little dances. Her heart was full of pride and gratitude. There was a thirsty crowd about the supper-tables-a thirsty crowd battling for tea or lemonade; a block on the staircase; a crush in the doorway; and the ball-room was so full, that dancing was almost impossible. Those who had seats were afraid to move; those who had not, were drooping. It was a very hot night.

Irvine Dale came late, in a state of mingled shyness and excitement. He was not accustomed to

London society, and felt, as he was apt to feel, that everybody was observing him. Had he been the Grand Turk himself, he would have excited but little attention that evening. People of fashion are not easily moved to excitement. They long for it, but it is ever harder to obtain. Yesterday's amusement is the bore of to-day. What is there for to-morrow? That is the question. It must be something new, and a little stronger. They do not conceal their eagerness. The languid manner is disappearing among the younger folk, and an almost brutal frankness prevails. Invent us a game or tell us a story, or go and hang yourself. It is thus that the tall young men of fashion address each other, and they treat their lady friends with almost equal sincerity. Never was your wag in greater request. People must be amused. Their eagerness is terrible. They do everything with feverish energy, and yet have nothing to do. They devour news which they don't believe, and will take any pains to gain the latest possible intelligence about matters in which they feel no interest whatever. Yet they have no time for business. Mothers who will not trouble themselves to arrange suitable alliances for their own daughters, shrug their shoulders at their neighbours' marriages.

« ForrigeFortsett »