People watched her when she suffered herself to be gradually withdrawn from the center of the room to a seat that chanced to be vacant, just behind the open door of the conservatory. Could it be possible, they asked one another, that she had indeed given his dismissal to Mr. Holland the previous week? Why, they were chatting together as pleasantly as they had ever chatted. Had not the people who talked so glibly of conscience and its mysterious operations spoken a little too soon? Or had the quarrel been patched up? If so, which of the two had got rid of the conscience that had brought about the original rupture?
These questions were answered at divers places by divers persons, all the time that George Holland and Phyllis Ayrton remained side by side at the entrance to the conservatory, at the further end of which a vocal quartette party sang delightfully--delightfully; sufficiently loud to enable all the guests who wanted to talk to do so without inconvenience, and at the same time not so loud as to become obtrusive. It is so seldom that a quartette party manage to hit this happy medium, people said. They generally sing as if they fancy that people come together to hear them, not remembering that the legitimate object of music at an At Home is to act as an accompaniment to the conversation.
When Phyllis was leaving the house half an hour later, a man was just entering the first drawing room--a man with a face burnt to the color of an old mezzotint.
He looked at her for a moment as he passed her, for her face had suddenly lighted up, as such a face as hers does upon occasions.
The man could scarcely fail to perceive that she knew his name was Herbert Courtland.
But then he was accustomed to be recognized by women as well as men in every part of Europe, since he had returned from New Guinea with the tail feathers of the meteor-bird, which were now being made into a fan for Mrs. Linton.
MY FATHER HAS HIS IDEAS ON WHAT'S CALLED REALISM.
The last rumble of applause had died away at the Parthenon Theater, but the audience were leaving very slowly; they wished to linger as long as possible within the atmosphere of the building; though, like the atmosphere of many sacred places, that of the Parthenon was, just at that time, a trifle unsavory. The first performance of the drama of "Cagliostro" had just taken place, and, as the first nights at the Parthenon are invariably regarded as the most exclusive functions of the year, the stalls and boxes had been crowded. And the distinction which in Mayfair and Belgravia attaches to those who have been in the boxes and stalls on Parthenon first night is not greater than that which, in Bloomsbury and Camden Town, accrues to those who have occupied places--not necessarily seats--in the other parts of the house. It is understood, too, that the good will of Bloomsbury and Camden Town is much more valuable to a play than the best wishes of Mayfair and Belgravia.