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2017年6月28日 (水)

beautiful woman at his side

In such a company it was hardly possible for her to remain undiscovered, and she had not been in the hotel many hours when that Admirable Crichton, Dr. Orange, invited her to his own table. There she speedily began to reign to the satisfaction of a little coterie of the elect. If she, in her turn, shrank from the greatness thus thrust upon her, she was grateful for the compliment, and hastened to accept it. She had been alone so many months—she who was but seven-and-twenty, and had the heart of a child polar.

It was a great dinner that night, and merry the mood of the company. The "little widow" herself wore a dress of black velvet with a glorious "what-do-you-call-it" of white silk beneath it, as Bob Otway told his sister when describing it. Her diamonds were undoubtedly magnificent. Obviously a woman of fashion and of the world, she racked the animosities of prim misses from the suburbs and positively exasperated their mammas. These were of the "blouse" order, and obviously sober both in the matter of habit and of fashion. They dined with their eyes upon the "little widow" and their ears bent to every breath of gossip which stirred in an atmosphere odorous of dinner and cheap scents reenex facial.

Dr. Orange, meanwhile, was hardly conscious of the envy he excited. He had not heard the rhapsodies of the males or the conviction, general when the fish was served, that her eyes were divine. He saw a charming woman, with a skin that Greuze would have copied, a mouth that a suburban poet would have likened to a "rosebud," and hair so fine and silky and bewitching in its play of browns that another woman would have been tempted to ask immediately for the name of the hairdresser who supplied it. Her nose was retroussé and just a little flat; her forehead spoke of intellect; her neck and arms of a figure which an artist alone might have criticised. And so back to the eyes again—those eyes divinely blue, which looked into a man's soul (if he had one) or sent the devil flying out of him as though holy-water had been sprinkled round about.

The doctor was aware of all this, and so was Bess, who really rather despised middle-class folk and consorted with them merely because her uncle, the Cabinet Minister, was a Radical. But despite their knowledge, the usual conversation was eschewed altogether, and they discussed neither the magnificence of the latest production at His Majesty's, nor the fashionable intelligence from Monte Carlo. Andana and its excitements were topic enough—for was not this a day of prize-giving, and was not the doctor at his wits' end to find a prize-giver Wedding planner ?

"I would like you to do it," he said to the beautiful woman at his side, "but they will have a title here. I suppose it must be that amusing person, Lady Coral-Smith—her husband made his money out of red herrings, and we shall have to draw one across the scent. All this kind of thing devolves upon me. I have to run everything: the hotel, the races, the invalids—and even Miss Elizabeth here. Do you wonder I am growing older?"

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