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Lippa   By:

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[Transcriber's Note: Chapter numbering is as in the original text, so there are two Chapter XIs.]


'I hold the world but as the world A stage where every man must play a part.'


It is four o'clock, and Street is wearing a very deserted appearance although it is July. The cab drivers are more or less fast asleep in attitudes far from suggesting comfort, the sentries on guard at Palace look almost suffocated in their bearskins, and a comparative quiet is reigning over the great metropolis.

'Do you know, Helmdon,' says Jimmy Dalrymple. 'I'm nearly done;' these two are seated in the bow window of a well known club.

'You don't mean it, what!' replies Helmdon, better known as Chubby.

'I do, all the same,' says Jimmy, testily, 'heat, money, everything, in fact!'

'That comes of racing, my good boy,' this from Chubby, in a sort of I told you so tone.

'For Heaven's sake don't begin lecturing,' says Dalrymple, 'it doesn't suit you, and how in the name of fortune could the heat come from my racing. Chubby, you're an ass!' and really, J. Dalrymple of the Guards is not far wrong, for the said Chubby, otherwise Lord Helmdon does look rather foolish half leaning half sitting on the back of a chair, his hat well at the back of his head (why it remains there is a mystery), his reddish hair very dishevelled, his face on a broad grin while he watches with deep interest two dogs fighting in the street below.

Dalrymple receiving no answer to his complimentary speech, gives vent to a yawn, and sends for a brandy and soda.

'Eh what!' says Chubby, suddenly, and à propos of nothing; by this time the dogs have been separated. 'Didn't you speak just now?'

'Well, yes,' replies Dalrymple, 'I merely observed that you were an ass.'

'Thanks, awfully, but why did it strike you just now?' asks Lord Helmdon, sweetly.

'Don't know, I'm sure '

'Ah! I thought so, but look here, why are you so down in the mouth, there's something up I'm sure,' and Chubby scrutinises his friend gravely.

'Nothing's up,' says Jimmy, 'but I've got into a confounded business with Harkness over that mare of his, that ought to have run in the Oaks, I've laid more than I've got, against her winning the Ledger, and I don't know what on earth to do '

'Do nothing,' says Helmdon, 'it'll all shake down somehow, and the Ledger's weeks off '

Jimmy grunts an assent, and then rising says, 'I'm off to tea at Brook Street and the Park afterwards.'

'You'll probably find me there,' replies Helmdon, settling himself comfortably for a nap. While Dalrymple walks out of the Club and turns in the direction of Brook Street. He has not gone far when he is overtaken by a man who greets him with: 'Where are you going to, my pretty maid?'

'I'm on my way to the Park,' replies Dalrymple, smiling, 'only I thought of stopping at your sister's on the way. Where are you bound for?'

'There too,' answers his companion, who, save for his drooping fair moustache would better deserve to be called a 'pretty maid.' 'Mabel has a small party on, and I promised to drop in, we may as well go together.'

Paul Ponsonby is decidedly handsome; tall, fair, of almost a feminine complexion, and with blue eyes of a very sad expression. He is a great favourite with the female sex and many a mother longs to have him for a son in law, remembering that he has plenty of money, and only three people between him and an earldom; but he has no intention of marrying, there being 'a just cause and impediment' why he should not.

But by this time our friends have reached their destination, and ascend the staircase to the strains of distant music.

'Mabel,' otherwise Mrs Seaton, is standing on the landing and greets them both eagerly.

'So glad you've come,' says she, 'but I didn't expect you , Mr Dalrymple, and now you're here you must make yourself useful, your mission in life at the present moment, Paul,' she adds, turning to her brother, 'is to go and amuse Philippa, poor child, I'm afraid she feels rather out of it, but I haven't time to attend to her now... Continue reading book >>

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