Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/87

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we had hitherto avoided. Indeed, one of the enticing comforts at the Inn was its entire freedom from petticoat government of any kind. A woman of quality, raised as she had been, would mean dress-coats and white ties for dinner and the restraint that comes with the mingling of the sexes, and we disliked both—that is, when on our outings.

By this time the news had penetrated to the other rooms, producing various comments. Herbert, with his head again out of the window, advanced the opinion that the hospitality of madame la marquise had been so overwhelming, and her beauty and charm so compelling, that Marc’s only way out was to introduce her among us. Louis kept his nose in the air. Brierley, from the opposite side of the court, indulged in a running fire of good-natured criticism in which Marc was described as the prize imbecile who needed a keeper. As for me, sitting on the window-sill watching the by-plays going on below—especially Louis, who demanded an immediate answer for Gaston—there was nothing left, of course, but a—“Why certainly, Louis, any friend of Marc’s will be most welcome, and say that we dine at seven.”

And yet before the day was over—so subtly