4 Gerard; or,
Every noteworthy arrival from the great world of English-speak¬
ing people across the Atlantic was to be seen at Lady Fridohne s,
from the scholar and enthusiast who had written seven octavo
volumes to prove that Don Juan was the joint work of Byron's valet,
Fletcher, and the Countess Guiccioli, to the miniature soubrette, the
idol of New York, who had come to be seen and to conquer upon
the boards of a London theatre. Everybody was there, for the
afternoon was late, and the throng was thickest just at this
Gerard Hillersdon went about from group to group, everywhere
received with cordiality and empressement, but lingering nowhere
—not even when the tiny soubrette told him she was just dying
for another ice, and she reckoned he'd take her to the tree over
there to get one—always in quest of that one somebody who made
it worth his while to run the gauntlet of everybody. One of his
oldest friends seized upon him, a man with whom he had been at
Oxford seven years before, with whom he had maintained the
friendship begun in those days, and who was not to be put off
with the passing hand-shake which served for other people,
" I want a talk with you, Hillersdon. Why didn't you look me
up last Tuesday ? We were to have dined and done a theatre.
Don't apologise; I see you forgot all about it. By Jove, old fellow,
you are looking dreadfully washed out. VHiat have you been
doing with yourself? "
" Nothing beyond the usual mill-round. A succession of late
parties may have impaired the freshness of my complexion,"
" Come up the river with me. Let me see, to-morrow will be
Saturday, ^Ve can go to Oxford by the afternoon express, spend a
couple of nights at the Mitre, look up the dons whom we knew as
undergrads, and row down to Windsor by Tuesday night,"
" I should adore it; but it's impossible, I have an engagement
which will keep me in London. I shall see you again presentl)'."
He slipped out of the little group in which his friend figured. He
had made the circuit of the lawn, looking right and left for that tall
and graceful form which his eye would have recognised even afar
off; and now he plunged into the shrubberied labyrinth which lay
between the fine, broad lawn and the high walls which secluded
Lady Fridoline's domain from the vulgar world.
He passed a good many couples sauntering slowly in the leafy
shade, and talking in those subdued accents v,-liich seem to mean
very much, and generally mean very little. At last, in the dis-