Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/243

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either of them; they were of courtly breeding and of genuine rank.

"Idalia is not here?" said Laraxa, after the introduction, to Victor Vane, who gave him the slightest possible silencing glance of warning as he answered:

"She will be, in a moment, I dare say."

Erceidoune crashed his heel into the softness of the carpet with a passionate oath suppressed. What was this man to her that he had title to call her by her familiar name?—what the other that he had a right to receive her guests, and speak of her actions? At that moment Diomed threw open the broad double doors. In the flood of sunshine still pouring in through the western windows there came Idalia.

She swept towards them with the dignity and grace of a woman long accustomed to homage wherever she moved, and familiar with it to weariness. She gave the same reception to all, without a shade of difference that could have flattered any, except that, when dinner was announced as served, with a slight bend of her head she signed Erceldoune to her, and laid her hand on his arm. She might have felt the quick tremor that ran through his frame at that signal of her preference, at that light touch of her hand: she