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The Oyster   By:

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The Oyster


a Peer


John Long, Limited

Norris Street, Haymarket

[ All rights reserved ]

First Published in 1914


In Two Editions, 6s. and 1s. net.

Theo The Hard Way The Decoy Duck A Wife Imperative To Justify the Means The Ordeal of Silence

All Published by


The Oyster


Gleams of bright sunshine came through the windows of the trim little flat into the drawing room furnished in miniature aping of luxury. The chairs and tables were Sheraton Sheraton passably imitated the covering rich brocade. Soft white cushion covers, fine as cobwebs, clothed the big squares stuffed with feathers. Late narcissi and early roses made the air heavy with scent. The place was small, but it carried the air of comfort; it was a miniature of its roomy brothers and sisters in big town houses. The door of the dining room, standing open, showed the same taste. Polished inlaid mahogany, good silver, embroidered table linen. Early as it was there had been strawberries for breakfast, and cream, and hot bread.

"Luncheon at the Berkeley. It will be a good one too. I'm driving with Denise to that show at the Duchess's. Tea at the Carlton. Dining with Robbie at his club; the Gay Delight afterwards; supper at Jules. Oh! the days are not half long enough."

Long limbed, slender, gracefully pretty, Esmé Carteret turned over the leaves of her engagement book. Her blue eyes sparkled behind dark lashes; her skin was fair and carefully looked after. She was so bright, so dazzling, that at first sight one missed the selfishness of the weak, red lipped mouth, the shallowness of the blue eyes.

"Not half long enough," she repeated. "Oh, Bertie, you "

A flashing smile, a hand held out, yet in the greeting no look of the real love some women feel for their husbands.

"Well, Butterfly." Bertie Carteret had a bundle of letters in his hands; he was opening them methodically with an ivory cutter.

A dark man, with a quiet, strong face. Dazzled, attracted by this fair piece of womanhood, loving her as men love when they do not stop to look further than the flesh and blood they covet, and so, married. And now, loving her still, but with eyes which were no longer blinded, with little lines of thought crinkling round his eyes when he looked at her, yet still her slave if she ordered him, thrilling to the satin softness of her skin, the scented masses of her hair.

"Well, my Butterfly," he said, opening another letter.

Esmé did not pay her own bills. She had not as yet sufficient wisdom to keep the house accounts. It saved trouble to let Bertie take them.

"Esmé child!" He looked at the total written under a long line of figures. "Esmé! those cushion covers are not made of gold, are they?"

"No hand embroidery," she said carelessly. "Everyone gets them."

"They seem to represent gold, you extravagant child."

"Dollie Maynard had them; she kind of crowed over mine last day we had bridge here. I must have things same as other people, Bert. I can't be shabby and dowdy."

"So it seems." He opened several other letters. "Well, we can just do it, girlie, so it doesn't matter. Breakfast now. I was working hard this morning."

"And I was eating strawberries. Bobbie sent them. There are eggs for you."

"Once upon a time laid by a hen," he said resignedly. "Got the stalls for to night. That blue gown suits you, Butterfly."

"It ought to," she said, coming in to give him his breakfast. "It cost fifteen guineas."

Bertie Carteret was adjutant of volunteers in London; he had taken it to please Esmé, who would not endure the idea of a country station in Ireland.

Now Carteret was going abroad, his adjutancy over. His battalion was in South Africa; he was to join it there until he got something else to do. Esmé flashed out at the thought of the place.

"Dust and bottled butter; black servants and white ants. No thank you, Bertie I won't go."

No one expected sacrifice from Esmé; she was too pretty, too brilliant, to endure worry or trouble... Continue reading book >>

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