Chapter 64034910

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Chapter NumberXXI
Chapter TitleCARTE BLANCHE.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64034910
Full Date1883-09-29
Page Number0
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Word Count5330
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Newspaper TitleIllustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)
Trove TitlePhantom Fortune
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CHAPTER XXI.

CABTB BLANCHE.

Lady Kirkbank's house in Arlington Street was known to half fashionable London as one of the pleasantest houses in town ; and it was known, by repute only, to the other half of fashionable London as a house whose threshold was not to be crossed by persons with any regard for their own dignity and reputation. It was not that Lady Kirkbank had ever actually forfeited her right to be considered an honest woman and a faithful wife. People who talked of the lady and her set with a contemptuous shrug of the shoulders and a dubious elevation of the eyebrows, were ready, when hard-pushed in argument, to admit that they knew of no actual harm in Lady Kirkbank, no overt bad behaviour. "But - well," said the punctilious half of society, the "Pej inks and Pernickitys,-the Picksomes and Unco-goods, "Lady Kirkbank is-Lady Kirkbank. And I would not allow my girls to visit her, don't you know." " Lady Kirkbank is received, certainly," said asevere dow- ager ; " she goes to very good houses. She gets tickets for the Poyal enclosure. She is always at private views, and privileged shows of all kinds ; and she contrives to squeeze herself iu at a State ball or a concert about once in two years ; but any one who can consider Lady Kirkbank good stylé must have a very curious idea of what a lady

ought to be."

About Sir George society, adverse or friendly, was without strong opinions. He had no children, he had never had a serious care in his life. He never thought, he never read. Lady Kirkbank declared that she had never seen him with a book in his hand since their marriage.

What was the specific charge which the very particular people brought against Lady Kirkbank ? Such charges rarely are specific. The idea that the lady belonged to the fast and furious section of society, the Bohemia of the upper ten, was an idea in the air. Everybody knew it ; no one could quite adequately explain it.

From thirty to fifty Lady Kirkbank had been known as a flirty matron. Wherever she went a train of men went with her : men young and middle aged and elderly : hand- some youths from the public offices : War, Admiralty, Foreign Office, Somerset House young men ; attractive men of mature years, with grey moustachios, military, diplo-

matic, horsey, what you will, but always agreeable. At, home, abroad, Lady Kirbkank was never without her court, but the court was entirely masculine. In those days the fair Georgie did not scruple to say that she hated women, and that girls were her particular abomination. But as the I years rolled on Lady Kirkbank began to find it very diffi-

cult to muster her little court, to keep her train in attend ! ance upon her.

At fifty-five Georgina Kirkbank told herself sadly enough that her day, as a bright particular star, all sufficient in her own radiance, was gone. She could not live without her masculiue circle-men who could bring her all the news, the gossip of the clubs ; where everything seemed to become known as quickly as if each club had its own Asmo deus, unroofing all the house-tops of the west-end for inspection every night. She could not live without her courtiers, and to keep them about her she knew that she must make her house pleasant. It was not enough to give good dinners, elegant little suppers washed down by choicest wines ; she must also provide fair faces to smile upon the feast, and bright eyes to sparkle in the subdued light of low shaded lamps, and many candles winkling under

coloured shades.

" I am an old woman now," Lady Kirkbank said to her- self with a sigh, " and my own attractions won't keep my friends about me. C'est trop connu çar."

And now the house in Arlington Street, in which femi- nine guests had been as one in ten, opened its doors to the young and the fair. Pretty widows, lively girls, young wives who were not too absurdly devoted to their hus- bands, actresses of high standing and good looks, these began to be welcomed effusively in Arlington Street. Lady Kirkbank began to hunt for beauties to adorn her rooms, as she had hitherto hunted Lions to roar at her parties. She prided herself on being the first to discover this or that new beauty. That lovely girl from Scotland with the large eyes-that sweet young creature from Ireland with the long eyelashes. She was always inventing new divinities. But even this change of plan, this more feminine line of politics,

failed to reconcile the strict and the stern, the Queen Char- ' lotte-Í8h elderly ladies, and the impeccable matrons, to Lady Kirkbank and her set. The girls who were launched by Lady Kirkbank never took high rank in society. When they made good marriages it was generally to be observed that they dropped Lady Kirkbank soon afterwards. It was not their fault, they pleaded piteously ; but Edward, or Henry, or Theodore, as the case might be, had a most cruel prejudice against dear Lady Kirkbank, and they were obliged to obey. (

Others there were, however, the loyal few, who, having won the prize matrimonial in Lady Kirkbank's happy hunting grounds, defended her character against every on-

slaught.

When Lady Maulevrier told her grandson that she had entrusted Lady Kirkbank with the duty of introducing Lesbia to society, he shrugged his shoulders and held his peace. Lady Kirkbank's was rather a fast set ; and had he been allowed to choose it was not to Lady Kirkbank that he would have delegated his grandmother's duty. In Mau- levrier's own phrase, it was "not good enough" for Lesbia. But it was not in his power to interfere. The thing was accomplished ; and against accomplished facts Maulevrier was the last to protest.

His friend John Hammond had not been silent. He knew nothing of Lady Kirkbank personally ; but he knew the position which she held in London society, and he urged his friend strongly to enlighten Lady Maulevrier as to the kind of circle into which she was about to entrust her young grand-daughter.

"Not for worlds would I undertake such a task," said Maulevrier. " Her ladyship never had any opinion of my wisdom, and this Lady Kirkbank is a friend of her own

youth. Besides, what's the odds, i£ you come to think of it ? All society is fast now-a-days. And then again, Lesbia is just one of those cool-headed girls who would keep her- self head uppermost in a maelstrom. Look how easily she ohucked you up because she did .not think you good enough. She'll make use of this Lady Kirkbank, and will make the

best match of the season."

And now the season had begun, and Lady Lesbia Haselden was circulating with other aristocratic atoms in the social vortex, with her head apparently uppermost.

" Old Lady K. has nobbled a real beauty this time," said one of the Arlington Street set, "a long way above those plain-headed ones she tried to palm off upon us last year the South-American girl with the big eyes and a com- plexion like a toad, the Forfarshire girl with freckles and unsophisticated carrots. 'Thoselovely Spanish eyes,' said Lady K., ' That Titanesque auburn hair,' but it didn't answer. Both the girls were plain, and they have gone back to their native obscurity, spinsters still. But this is a real thorough-bred one-blood, form, pace, all there."

" Who is she ?" drawled his friend.

" Lady Maulevrier's sister, Lady Lesbia Haselden. Has money, too, I believe ; rich grandmother ; old lady buried alive in Westmoreland ; horrid old miser."

"I shouldn't mind marrying a miser's grand-daughter,"

said the other. " So nice to know that some wretched old idiot has scraped and hoarded through a lifetime of depri- vation and self-denial, in order that one may spend his money when he.is under the sod."

Lady Lesbia was accepted everywhere, or almost every- where, as the beauty of the season. Lady Kirkbank told her that she was turning every one's head, and Lesbia was quite willing to believe her. But was Leshia's own head quite steady in this whirlpool ? That was a question which

she did not take the trouble to ask herself.

H er heart was tranquil enough, cold as marble. No shield and safeguard so secure against the fire of new love as an old love hardly cold. Lesbia told herself that her heart was a sepulchre, an urn which held a handful of ashes, the ashes of her passion for John Hammond. It was a fire quite burned out, she thought ; but that extinguished flame had left death-like coldness ; and the man who had power to awaken that fancy as John Hammond had done had not yet appeared in Lady Kirkbank's circle.

" What a cold-hearted creature you must be," said Georgie. " You don't seem to admire any of my favourite

men !"

They are very nice," Lesbia answered languidly ; "but they are all alike. One would think they were all drilled in a body every morning before they go out. Mr. Night- shade, the actor, who came to supper the other night, is the only man I have seen who has a spark of originality."

"You are right," answered Lady Kirkbank, "there is an appalling sameness in men ; only it is odd you should find it out so e-'on. I never discovered it till I was an old

woman. How í envy Cleopatra her Ciesar and her Antony. No .mistaking one of those for the other. Mary Stuart, too,

what marked varieties of character in Rizzio and Chaste lard, Darnley and Bothwell. Ah, child, that is what it is

to live. "

"Mary is very interesting," sighed Lesbia, "but I fear she was not a correct person.'"

" My love, history draws a misty halo round a sinner of that kind, till one almost believes her a saint. I think Mary Stuart, Froude's Mary, simply perfect."

Lesbia had begun by blushing at Lady Kirkbank's opin- ions : but she was now used to the audacity of the lady's sentiments, and the almost infantile candour with which she gave utterance to them. Lady Kirkbank liked to make her friends laugh. It was all she could do now in order to be admired. Lady Kirkbank was a close student of all those delightful books of French memoirs which bring the tittle tattle of the Regency and the scandals of Louis the Fifteenth's reign so vividly before us. She did not want to seem better than women who had been so altogether charm- ing. She fortified the frivolity of historical Parisian man- ners by a dash of the British sporting character. She drove, shot, jumped over five-barred gates, contrived, on the verge of seventy, to be as active as a young woman, and she flattered herself that the mixture of wit, audacity, sport, and good nature, was full of fascination.

However this might be, it is certain that a good many people liked her, chiefly perhaps because she was , good natured, and a little on account of that admirable cook.

To Lesbia this new life was one perpetual round of plea- sure. She flung herself with all her heart and n.ind into the amusement of the moment ; she knew neither weari- ness nor satiety. To ride in the Park in the morning, to go to a luncheon party, a garden party, to drive in the park for half an hour after the garden party, to rush home and dress for the fourth or fifth time, and then off to a dinner, and from dinner to drum, and from drum to big ball, at which rumour said the Prince and Princess were to be present ; and so, from eleven o'clock in the morning till four or five o'clock next morning, the giddy whirl went on ; and every hour was so occupied by pleasure engagements that it was difficult to squeeze in an occasional morning for shopping, or for an indispensable interview with the dress-

maker.

Those mornings at the shops were hardly the least agree- able of Leshia's hours. To a girl brought up in one per- petual tête ci tête with green hill sides and silvery water- courses, the West-end shops were as gardens of Eden, as Aladdin caves. Lesbia, the clear-headed, the cold-hearted, fairly lost her senses when she went into one of those exquisite shops

Lady Maulevrier had said Lesbia was to have carte blanche ; so Lesbia bought everything she wanted, or fan- cied she wanted, or that the shop-people thought she must want, or that Lady Kirkbank happened to admire. The shop-people were so obliging, and so deeply obliged by Les- hia's patronage. This was exactly the kind of customer they

like to serve. She flitted about their show-rooms like a

beautiful butterfly hovering over a flower-bed :- her eye caught by évery novelty. She never asked the price of anything ; and then came the visit to the dressmaker. Miss Kearney was the fashion, and could pick and choose her customers ; and, finding that Lady Kirkbank was much more willing to give new orders than to pay old accounts, she had respectfully informed her ladyship that a pressure of business would prevent her executing any further com- mands from Arlington Street, while the necessity of posting her ledger obliged her to request the favour of an imme- diate cheque.

This little skirmish, per letter, occurred while Lady Kirkbank was at Cannes, and Miss Kearney's conduct was stigmatised as insolent and ungrateful, since had not she, Lady Kirkbank, by the mere fact of her patronage, given this young person her chief claim to fashion ?

" I shall drop her," said Georgie, " and go back to poor old Seraphine, who- is worth a cartload of such Irish adven-

turesses."

So to Madame Seraphine, of Clanricarde Place, Lady Lesbia was taken as a lamb to the slaughter-house.

Lady Kirkbank was always dropping Seraphine and taking her up again, quarrelling and making friends with her. They wrote each other little notes, in which Lady Kirkbank called the dressmaker her cher ange-her bonne

chatte, her chère vielle folle-and all manner of affectionate

names.

Lady Kirkbank, within thirty years, had paid Seraphine several thousands ; but she had never once got herself out of the dear creature's debt. All her payments were on account ; a hundred pounds, or fifty-or ah occasional ! cheque for two hundred and fifty, when Sir George had been

lucky at Newmarket and Doncaster ; but the neucleus of debt went rolling on, growing bigger every year, until the payments on account needed to be larger or more numerous than of old to keep Seraphine in good humour.

Seraphine was a woman of genius and versatility, and had more than one art at her fingers' ends, those skinny and

claw-shaped fingers, the nails whereof were not always

clean.

If Madame's waist gets one quarter of an inch thicker it must be that I renounce to make her gowns," she would tell a ponderous matron, with cool insolence, and the matron would stand abashed before the little sallow hook-nosed, keen-eyed Jewess, like a child before a severe mother.

" Oh, Seraphine, do you really think that I am stouter ?"

the customer would ask, feebly, panting in her tightened

corset.

"Is it that I think so? Why, that jumps to the eyes. Madame had always that little air of Rubens, even in the tine flower of her youth-but now-it is a Rubens of the Faubourg du Temple."

And, horrified at the idea of her vulgarised charms, the meek matron would consent to encase herself in one of Seraphine's severest corsets, called in bitterest mockery, à la scinte-at five guineas-in order that the dressmaker might measure her for a forty-guinea gown.

Seraphine was an artist in complexions, and it was she who provided her middle-aged and elderly customers with the lillies and roses of youth. Lady Kirkbank's town com- plexion was superintended by Seraphine, sometimes even manipulated by those harpy-like claws. The eyebrows of which Lesbia complained were only eyebrows de Province eyebrows de voyage. In London Georgie was much more particular ; and Seraphine was often in Arlington Street with her little morocco bag of washes and creams, and brushes and sponges, to prepare Lady Kirkbank for some great party and to instruct Lady Kirkbank's maid. At

such times Georgie was all affection for the little dress

' maker.

" Ma chatte, you have made me positively adorable," slit

would say, peering at her reflection in the ivory hand

mirror.

" Not for you, Lady Kirkbank, with your fine shoulders, Shoulders are of no age- les épaules sont la vraie fontaim de jouvence pour le femmes."

" You are such a witty creature, Seraphine, Fifine. Yoi ought to be a descendant of that wicked old Voltaire. Ril boche, give Madame some more chartreuse. " And Lad} Kirkbank and the dress-maker would chink their liqueui glasses in friendship.

There was always the finest chartreuse and curacoa ir an ebony and ormolu liqueur cabinet on Lady Kirkbank'i dressing table. The cabinet formed a companion to th< dressing case which contained all those creamy and rose hued mixtures, powders, brushes, and medicaments, whicl were necessary for the manufacture of Georgie's complexion The third bottle in the liqueur case held cognac, and this as Rilboche the maid knew, was oftenest replenished. Ye nobody could accuse Lady Kirkbank of intemperate habits The liqueur box only supplied the peg that was occasionally wanted to screw the superior mind to concert pitch.

4 ' One must always be at concert pitch in society, don't yoi know, my dear," said Georgie to her young protégé.

i Thus it happened that Miss Kearney, having behave

badly, Lesbia was carried off to dear old Seraphine, àn( delivered over to that modern witch, as a sacrifice tied t

the horns of the altar.

Clanricarde Place is a little nook of Queen Anne house -genuine Queen Anne, be it understood-between Picea dilly and St. James's Palace-and hardly five minutes' wal from Arlington Street, lt is a quiet little cul de sac in th very heart of the fashionable world.

Madame Seraphine's house was at the end, a narro i house, with tall, old-fashioned windows, curtained wit

amber satin.

Seraphine herself was the only shabby thing in the hous< a wizened little woman, with a wicked old Jewish facè.

One ornament, and one only, had Seraphine ever bee guilty of wearing, and that was an old fashioned half-hoo ring of Brazilian diamonds, brilliants of the first wate This ring she called her yard measure ; and she was in tb habit of using it as her standard of purity, and compariB it with any diamonds which her customers submitted to h< inspection. For the clever little dressmaker had a feelic heart for a lady in difficulties, and was in the habit < lending money on security, and on terms that were almoi reasonable, as compared with the usurious rates one reát of in the newspapers.

Leshia's first sensation upon having this accomplis!» person presented to her was one of shrinking and disgus There was something sinister in the sallow face, the sma shrewd eyes, and long hooked nose, the crooked figure, ai claw-shaped hands. But when Madame Seraphine begs to talk about gowns, and bade her acolytes-smartly-dresse young women with pleasing countenances-unroll marve of brocade and satin, embroideries, stamped velvets, bullic fringes, and ostrich feather flouncings, Lesbia became inte ested, and forgot the unholy aspect of the high priestess.

' Lady Kirkbank and the dressmaker discussed Lesbia ! charms as calmly as if she had been out of the room.

"What do you think of her figure?" asked Lady Kir

bank.

' * One- cannot criticise what does not exist, " replied tl dressmaker, in French. The young lady has no figure. Si has evidently been brought up in the country."

And then with rapid bird-like movements, and with h head on one side, Seraphine measured Leshia's waist ai bust, muttering little argotic expressions sotto voce as si

did so.

" Waist three inches too large, shoulders six inches t narrow," she said, decisively," and she dictated sor

I figures to one of the damsels, who wrote them down in ¡

i order-book.

"What does that mean?" asked Lesbia, nob at ¡ ' approving of such cavalier treatment.

" Only that Seraphine will make your corsets the right 1 size," answered Lady Kirkbank.

" What? Three inches too small for my waist, and six too wide for my shoulders ?"

"My love, you must have a figure," replied Lady Kirk-, bank, conclusively. " It is not what you are, but what you ought to be, that has to be considered."

It was only when her complexion came under discussion, and Seraphine ventured to suggest that she would be all the better for a little accentuation of her eyebrows and darkening of her lashes, that Lesbia made a stand.

1 " What would my grandmother think of me if she heard

I painted ?" she asked, indignantly.

Lady Kirkbank laughed at her naïveté.

" My dear child, your grandmother is just half a century behind the age," she said.

" I am not going to paint my face," replied Lesbia, firmly. "Well, perhaps you are right. The eyebrows are a little weak and undecided, Seraphine, as you say, and the lashes would be all the better for your famous cosmetic ; but after . all there is a charm iu what the painters call ' sincerity, ' and any little errors of detail will prove the genuineness of Lady Leshia's beauty. One may be too artistic. "

And Lady Kirkbank gave a complacent glance at her own image in one of the Marie Antoinette mirrors, pleased with the general effect of arched brows, darkened eyelids, and a daisy bonnet.

That first visit to Seraphine's dea was a serious business.

Later interviews might be mere frivolities ; but upon this, occasion Lady Kirkbank had to arm her young .protégé for the coming campaign, and the question was to the last ! degree serious. s

The chaperon and the dressmaker put their heads together, ! looked at fashion-plates, talked solemnly of Worth and his

compeers, of the gowns that were being worn by Bernhardt, and Pierson, and Groisette, and other stars of the Parisian stage ; and then Lady Kirkbank gave her orders, Lesbia listening and assenting.

Nothing was said about prices, but Lesbia ventured to ask Lady Kirkbank if she were not ordering too many

gowns.

" My dear, Lady Maulevrier said you were to have carte blanche," replied Georgie solemnly. " Your dear grand- mother is as rich as Croesus, and she is generosity itself j and how should I ever forgive myself if i allowed you to appear in society in an inadequate style ? You have to take a high place, the very highest, Lesbia ; and you must be I dressed in accordance with that position."

Lesbia said no more. She had been entrusted to Lady I Kirkbank as to a person who thoroughly knew the great

world, and she must submit to be governed by the wisdom and experience of her chaperon. If the bills were heavy that would be Lady Kirkbank's affair.

Lady Maulevrier had given her grand'daughter some old- ?'? fashioned ornaments-topaz, amethysts, turquoise-jewels that had belonged to dead and gone Talmashes and Angers thorpes-to be re-set. Thia entailed a visit to a Bond Street jeweller, and Leshia saw a good many things which she felt were real necessities to her new phase of existence, and these, with Lady Kirkbank's approval, she ordered. Half-a-dozen Indian gold bangles of real oriental workman- ship j three or four jewelled arrows to pin on her laces and flowers, a diamond clasp for her pearl necklace, a dear little gold hunter, to wear when she rode in the park, a diamond butterfly to light up that old-fashioned amethyst parure

which the jeweller was to re-set with an artistic admixture

of brilliants.

" I am sure you would not like the effect without dia-. monds," said the jeweller. " Your amethysts are very fine, but they are dark and heavy in tone, and want a good deal of lighting up, especially for the present fashiou of half

lighted rooms. If you will allow me to use my own discre- . cretion, and mix in a few brilliants, I shall be able to produce a really artistic parure ; otherwise I would not recommend you to touch them ; the present setting ia clumsy and inelegant ; but I really do not know that I could improve upon it, without an admixture of brilliants."

" Will the diamonds add very much to the expense?" Lesbia inquired timidly.

" My dear child, you are perfectly safe in leaving the, : matter in Mr. Cabochon's hands," interposed Lady Kirk- bank, who had particular reasons for wishing to be on good terms with the head of the establishment. ""Your dear grandmother gave you the amethysts to be reset ; and of course she would wish it to be done in an artistic manner. Otherwise, as Mr. Cabochon judiciously says, why have the stones reset at all ? Better wear them in all their present

hideousness."

Of course, after this, Lesbia consented to the amethysts being dealt with according to Mr. Cabochon's taste.

" Which is simply perfeco," interjected Lady Kirkbank.

And now Leshia's campaign began in real earnest-a life of pleasure, a life of utter selfishness and self-indulgence which would go far to pervert the strongest mind, to tar- nish the purest nature. To dress and be admired, that was what Leshia's life meant from morning till night. Sunday mornings at the fashionable church, where Lesbia thought more of her bonnet and her gloves, the chic or non-chic of her whole costume, than of the service. She might kneel gracefully ; she might look the fairest image of devoción ; but how could a woman pray whose heart was a milliner's shop, whose highest ambition was to be prettier and better

dressed than other women ?

The season was six weeks old. It was Ascot-week, the crowning glory of the year, and Lesbia aud her chaperon had secured tickets for the royal enclosure-or it may be said rather that Lesbia had secured them-for the Master of the Royal Buckhounds might have omitted poor old Lady Kirkbank's familiar name from his list if it had not been for that lovely girl who went everywhere under the vete-

ran's wing.

Six weeks, and Leshia's appearance in Society had been one perpetual triumph ; but as yet nothing serious had happened ; she had had no offers. Half a dozen men had tried their hardest to propose to her ; but she had contrived to keep them at bay, for all these were ineligibles, whom Lady Lesbia Haselden did not want to have the trouble of

refusing.

Lady Kirkbank was in no haste to marry her protege, nay, it was much more to her interest that Lesbia should remain single for three or four seasons, and that she, Lady Kirkbank, might have the advantage of close association with the young beauty, and the privilege of spending Lady Maulevrier's money. But she would have liked to be able to inform Leshia's grandmother of some tremendous con- quest-the subjugation of a worthy victim. What was the use of telling Lady Maulevrier about barren victories ? Lady Kirkbank therefore contented herself with expa- tiating upon Leshia's triumphs in a general way ; how gra- ciously the Princess spoke to her and about her ; how

she bad been asked to sit on the dais at the ball at Marl- borough House, and had danced in the royal quadrille.

"Has Lesbia happened to meet Lord Hartfield?" Lady Maulevrier asked incidentally in one of her letters.

No. Lord Hartfield was in London, for he had made a great speech in the Lords on a question of thrilling interest ; but he was not going into society, or at any rate into society 7 of a frivolous kind. As a competitor on the fashionable

racecourse, Lord Hartfield was, in common parlance, out of

the running.

And now, on this glorious June day, this Thursday of Thursdays, the Ascot Cup day, for the first time since Leshia's début, Lady Kirkbank had occasion to smile upon an admirer whose prétentions were worthy of the highest

consideration.

Mr. Smithson, of Park Lane, and Old Palace, near Henley, and Formosa, Cowes, and Le Bouge, Deauville, and a good many other places too numerous to mention, was one of the richest commoners in England. He was a man of that uncertain period of life which enemies call middle aged, and friends call young-whether he had passed the rubicon of forty was open to doubt. Wisdom has come, experience has been bought, taste has been cultivated, the man has educated himself to the uttermost in the great school of daily life. Mr. Smithson was a great authority on the Stock Exchange, and was supposed to have made his money in foreign stocks, and tc» be, in his easy-going way, as great a genius as that elder Rothschild.

There were some who said he was the very youth who Btooped to pick up a pin in a great banker's court-yard, after his services as clerk had just been rejected by the firm, and who was thereupon recognised as a youth worthy of favour and taken into the banker's office.

Some there were who remembered him as an adventurer in the great wilderness of London-penniless, friendless, a J,ack-of-all-trades, living as the birds of the air live. And then Mr. Smithson disappeared for a space-a span of years -he went under, as his friends called it ; to reappear fifteen years later as Smithson the millionaire. He had been in Mexico, in California, had traded in hides, in dia- monds, in silver, in stocks and shares ; and now he was .the great Smithson, whose voice was the voice of an oracle.

Mr. Smithson had been in Petersburg, Paris, Vienna, all over civilized Europe during the last five weeks. He came back to London in time for the Cup Day, and in time to fall desperately in love with Lesbia, whom he met for the first time in the Royal enclosure. ,

She was dressed in white, purest ivory white, from top tc toe-radiant, dazzling, under an immense sunshade, fringed with creamy marabouts. Her complexion-untouched by Seraphine-her dark and glossy hair, her large violet eyes, luminous, dark almost to blackness, were all set off and accentuated by the absence of all colour in her costume Even the cluster of exotics on her shoulder were of the same pure tint-gardenias and lillies of the valley.

Mr. Smithson was formally presented to the new beauty¡ and received with a cool contempt which riveted hit chains. He was so accustomed to be run after by womer that it was a new sensation to meet one who was not in tb« least impressed by his superior merits.

. " I don't suppose the girl knows who I am," he said t< himself, for although he had a very good idea of his intrinsii

' worth, he knew that his wealth ranked first among hil

merits.

But on after occasions, when Lesbia had been told al that could be told to the advantage of Mr. Smithson, sh< accepted his homage with the same indifference, and treate( him no better than the ruined guardsmen and younger son who were dying for her.