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At twelve o'clock punctually Lord Bracondale was ushered into Mrs.
McBride's sitting-room at the Ritz, the day after her dinner-party at
Armenonville. He expected she would not be ready to receive him for at
least half an hour; having said twelve he might have known she meant
half-past, but he was in a mood of impatience, and felt obliged to be
He was suffering more or less from a reaction. He had begun towards
morning to realize the manner in which he had spent the evening was not
altogether wise. Not that he had the least intention of not repeating
his folly--indeed, he was where he was at this hour for no other purpose
than to enlist the widow's sympathy, and her co-operation in arranging
as many opportunities for similar evenings as together they could
After all, she only kept him waiting twenty minutes, and he had been
rather amused looking at the piles of bric-à-brac obsequious art dealers
had left for this rich lady's inspection.
A number of spurious bronzes warranted pure antique, clocks, brocades,
what not, lying about on all the available space.
"And I wonder what it will look like in her marble palace halls," he
thought, as he passed from one article to another.
"I am just too sorry to keep you, mon cher Bracondale," Mrs. McBride
said, presently, suddenly opening the adjoining door a few inches, "but
it is a quite exasperating hat which has delayed me. I can't get the
thing on at the angle I want. I--"