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A Devotee by Mary Cholmondeley

Annoyed by their long dominoes


They

left the ballroom, and, passing numerous ghostly figures sitting in nooks and on the wide staircase, they made their way to the arched gallery which overhung the ballroom. Every white arch had been lit by a pendent pink-shaded lamp, and the arches and Sibyl's primrose domino all took the same rosy hue. In nearly every arch a couple were already sitting, watching the crowd below. Doll secured one of the few vacant places, and Sibyl drew her chair forward and leaned her slender bare arms on the white stone balustrade. The couple in the adjoining archway were chattering volubly, but Doll and Sibyl did not talk. She did not notice the omission, for her eyes were following the quaint pageant with the delight of a child. Doll racked his brains for something to say, and found nothing.

Why had she married Uncle George? Why had she married Uncle George? So, as he could not ask her that, and tell her that he cared for her a hundred times more than her husband did, he said nothing.

The _pas de quatre_ was in full swing. The men, annoyed by their long dominoes, and having one hand disengaged, raised their voluminous skirts and danced with long black legs, regardless of propriety. Captain Charrington's endless crimson domino had come open in front and displayed his high action to great advantage. A very elegant pink domino, which had been introduced by the eldest son of the house as an heiress to all the men whom he did

not recognise, and which had danced only with masculine dominoes, was now seen to emulate its partner, and to have black trousers rolled up above its white-stockinged ankles, and rather large white satin shoes.

'Look!' said the girl in the next archway; 'that pink domino must be Mr. Lumley. He often acts as a woman.'

'Hang him for an impostor! I've danced with him as such,' said the man, with ill-concealed vexation. 'He knew me, and called me by name. I took him for----' He did not finish his sentence. 'By Jove! that black domino with a death's-head and cross-bones is a good idea,' he went on. 'Is it half-mourning, do you suppose?'

'How foolish you are! That is Lord Lutwyche. I have just been dancing with him.'

'Lord Lutwyche is not here. He sprained his ankle at hockey yesterday.'

The female domino appeared to be a prey to uneasy reflections.

'The primrose domino is the prettiest in the room,' she said presently. 'And how well she dances! I wonder who she is.'

'I happen to know that is Mrs. Loftus.'

Sibyl, with her back to the arch, could hear every word on the other side of it. Doll was not near enough. This was indeed delightful! How lucky that she and Peggy had come dressed alike!

'Which is Mr. Loftus?' said the woman's voice eagerly. 'I have heard so much about him.'

'That tall, thin, fine-looking old chap with his hands behind his back, standing by the Bishop. The Union Jack domino is speaking to him.'

'So that is he. I have always wished to see him. He looks tired to death.'

'He always looks like that. Quite a character, though, isn't he?'

'He has an interesting face. But it was a disgraceful thing, his marrying a pretty young girl, and an heiress, at his age.'

Sibyl made a sudden movement, and the other couple glanced round. They saw her, but her primrose domino had taken the pink of her surroundings, and they suspected nothing.


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