“It will be rather a humdrum ball, I’m afraid,” said Belinda. “All the best people seem to be away.”

“Never mind that if the worst people can dance. I am on the committee, so I will answer for the supper and the champagne. You like a dry brand, of course, Miss Crowther?”

[Pg 44]

“I never 杭州桑拿一品楼 touch wine of any kind.”

“No; then my chief virtue will be thrown away upon you. Are all young ladies blue-ribbonites nowadays, I wonder? Mrs. Disney, pray tell me you are interested in the champagne question.”

“I am not going to the ball.”

“Not going! Oh, but it is a duty which you owe to the county! Do you think because you are an alien and a foreigner you can flout our local gaieties—fleer at our solemnities? No, it is incumbent upon you to give


us your support.”

“Yes, my dear, you must go to the ball,” put in Mrs. 杭州夜生活美女 Crowther, in her motherly tone. “You are much too young and pretty to stay at home, like Cinderella, while we are all enjoying ourselves. Of course you must go. Mr. Crowther has put down his name for five and twenty tickets, and I’m sure there’ll be one to spare for you, although we shall have a large 杭州龙凤楼论坛 house-party.”

“Indeed, you are too kind, but I couldn’t think——” faltered Isola, with a distressed look.

She knew that Lostwithiel was watching her from his vantage ground ever so far above her head. A man of six feet two has considerable advantages at a billiard-table, and in a quiet flirtation carried on in public.

“If it is a chaperon you are thinking about, I’ll take care of you,” urged good Mrs. Crowther.

“No, it isn’t on that account. Mrs. Baynham offered to take me in her party. But I really would much rather not be 杭州不正规养生按摩推荐there. It would seem horrid to me to be dancing in a great, dazzling room, among happy people, while Martin is in Burmah, perhaps in peril of his life on that very night. One can never tell. I often shudder at the thought of what may be happening to him while I am sitting quietly by the fire. And what should I feel 杭州上门品茶 at a ball?”

“I should hardly have expected you to have such romantic notions about Major Disney,” said Belinda, coolly, “considering the difference in your ages.”

[Pg 45]

“Do you suppose I care the less for him because he is twenty years older than I am?”

“Twenty! Is it really as much as that?” ejaculated Mrs. Crowther, unaffectedly shocked.

“He is just as dear to me,” pursued Isola, warmly. “I look up to him, and love him with all my heart. There never was a better, truer man. From the time I began to read 杭州桑拿按摩验证 history I always admired great soldiers. I don’t mean to say that Martin is a hero—only I know he is a thorough soldier—and he seemed to realize all my childish dreams.”

She had spoken impetuously, fancying that there was some slight towards her absent husband in Miss Crowther’s speech. Her flash of anger made a break in the conversation, and nothing more was said about her going or not going to the Hunt Ball. They talked of that entertainment in the abstract—discussed the floor—the lighting—the band—and the great people who might be induced to appear, if the proper pressure were put upon them.

“There is plenty of time,” said Lostwithiel, “between now and the twenty-second of December—nearly three weeks. Time for you and your sister to get new frocks from London or Paris, Miss Crowther. You mean having new frocks, I suppose?”
“One generally does have a new frock for a dance,” replied Belinda, “though the fashions this winter are so completely odious that I would much rather appear in a gown of my great-grandmother’s.”

Lostwithiel smiled his slow secret smile high up in the fainter firelight. He was reflecting upon his notion of Miss Crowther’s great-grandmother, in linsey-wolsey, with a lavender print apron, a costume that would be hardly impressive at a Hunt Ball. He did not give the young lady credit for a great-grandmother from the Society point of view. There was the mother yonder—inoffensive respectability—the grandmother would be humbler—and the great-grandmother he imagined at the wash-tub, or cooking the noontide meal for an artisan husband. He had never yet[Pg 46] realized the idea of numerous generations of middle-class life upon the 杭州水磨 same plane, the same dead level of prosperous commerce.

Isola rose to take leave, after having let her tea get cold, and dropped half her cake on the Persian rug. She felt shyer in that house than in any other. She had a feeling that there she was weighed in the balance and found wanting; that unfriendly eyes were scrutinizing her gloves and hat, and appraising her features and complexion. She felt herself insignificant, colourless, insipid beside that brilliant Miss Crowther, with her vivid beauty, and her self-assured airs and graces.

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