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But if she was pleased, Miss Greeby was not, and still continued to look annoyed, since she had burnt her boats by announcing her departure. And what annoyed her still more than her hasty decision was, that she would leave Lambert in the house along with the rival she most dreaded. Though what the young man could see in this pale, washed-out creature Miss Greeby could not imagine. She glanced at a near mirror and saw her own opulent, full-blown looks clothed in a pale-blue dinner-gown, which went so well—as she inartistically decided, with her ruddy locks, Mrs. Belgrove considered that Miss Greeby looked like a paint-box, or a sunset, or one of Turner's most vivid pictures, but the heiress was very well pleased with herself. Lady Agnes, in her favorite white, with her pale face and serious looks, was but a dull person of the nun persuasion. And Miss Greeby did not think that Lambert cared for nuns, when he had an Amazonian intelligent pal—so she put it—at hand. But, of course, he might prefer dark beauties like Chaldea. Poor Miss Greeby; she was pursuing her wooing under very great difficulties, and became silent in order to think out some way of revoking in some natural manner the information of her departure.

There were other women in the room, who joined in the conversation, and all were glad to hear that Mr. Lambert intended to pay a visit to his cousin, for, indeed, the young man was a general favorite. And then as two or three decided—Mrs. Belgrove amongst the number—there really could be nothing in the report that he loved Lady Agnes still, else he would scarcely come and stay where she was. As for Pine's wife, she was a washed-out creature, who had never really loved her cousin as people had thought. And after all, why should she, since he was so poor, especially when she was married to a millionaire with the looks of an Eastern prince, and manners of quite an original nature, although these were not quite conventional. Oh, yes, there was nothing in the scandal that said Garvington had sold his sister to bolster up the family property. Lady Agnes was quite happy, and her husband was a dear man, who left her a great deal to her own devices—which he wouldn't have done had he suspected the cousin; and who gave her pots of money to spend. And what more could a sensible woman want?

In this way those in the drawing-room babbled, while Agnes stared into the fire, bracing herself to encounter Lambert, who would surely arrive within the next two or three days, and while Miss Greeby savagely rebuked herself for having so foolishly intimated her departure. Then the men straggled in from their wine, and bridge became the order of the night with some, while others begged for music. After a song or so and the execution of a Beethoven sonata, to which no one paid any attention, a young lady gave a dance after the manner of Maud Allan, to which everyone attended. Then came feats of strength, in which Miss Greeby proved herself to be a female Sandow, and later a number of the guests sojourned to the billiard-room to play. When they grew weary of that, tobogganing down the broad staircase on trays was suggested and indulged in amidst shrieks of laughter. Afterwards, those heated by this horse-play strayed on to the terrace to breathe the fresh air, and flirt in the moonlight. In fact, every conceivable way of passing the time was taken advantage of by these very bored people, who scarcely knew how to get through the long evening.

"They seem to be enjoying themselves, Freddy," said Lady Garvington to her husband, when she drifted against him in the course of attending to her guests. "I really think they find this jolly."

"I don't care a red copper what they find," retorted the little man, who was looking worried, and not quite his usual self. "I wish the whole lot would get out of the house. I'm sick of them."

"Ain't you well, Freddy? I knew that Patagonian soup was too rich for you."

"Oh, the soup was all right—ripping soup," snorted Freddy, smacking his lips over the recollection. "But I'm bothered over Pine."

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"He isn't ill, is he?" questioned Lady Garvington anxiously. She liked her brother-in-law, who was always kind to her.

"No, hang him; nothing worse than his usual lung trouble, I suppose. But he is in Paris, and won't answer my letters."

"Letters, Freddy dear."

"Yes, Jane dear," he mocked. "Hang it, I want money, and he won't stump up. I can't even get an answer."

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"Speak to Mr. Silver."