2017年07月

I am at Miss Bull's service, said the polite old gentleman bowing.

Miss Bull swept the cards into a heap. I'm quite willing, she said in a voice almost pleasant for her. Anything to oblige dear Madame .

Mrs. Jersey smiled still more graciously and sailed away to send Mr. Harmer to the cards. But she wondered inwardly why Miss Bull had given way so suddenly. There was some reason for it, as Miss Bull never did anything without a reason. But Mrs. Jersey kept her own counsel, and still continued to smile. She had quite made up her mind how to act.

Ladies and gentlemen, she said, standing in the middle of the drawing-room, we must disperse to-night at ten. I have some business to attend to, so I request you will all retire at that hour. In the mean time, Miss Bull has kindly consented to tell your fortunes.

It was extraordinary to see how those withered old people crowded round the table. Their several fates had long since been settled, so what they could expect the cards to tell them, save that they would one and all die soon, it is difficult to say. Yet so ineradicable is the wish to know the future in the human breast that they were as eager as youth to hear what would befall them. And Miss Bull, wholly unmoved by their senile excitement, dealt the cards with the air of a sphinx Word Of Mouth.

Madame meantime retired to her throne, and saw that the servants arranged the tray properly. She had a gigantic chair, which was jokingly called her throne, and here she received strangers in quite a majestic way. It was a sort of Lady Blessington reception on a small scale, as Mr. Harmer assured her, and, as he had been to Gore House in his youth, he knew what he was talking about. Knowing his courtly manners, and being greedy of compliments, Mrs. Jersey always tried to make him say that she resembled Lady Blessington. But this Mr. Harmer refused to do. Not that Mrs. Jersey was bad-looking. She had a fresh-colored face, bright black eyes, and plenty of white hair like spun silk. Her figure was stout, but she yet retained a certain comeliness which showed that she must have been a handsome woman in her youth. Her manners were motherly, but she showed a stern face toward Margery, and did not treat the girl so kindly as she might have done. As a rule, she had great self-command, but sometimes gave way to paroxysms of passion, which were really terrifying. But Margery alone had been witness of these, and Mrs. Jersey passed for a dear, gentle old lady.

Mr. Harmer is to be married, announced Mrs. Taine, leaving the circle round the card-table; how extraordinary!

So extraordinary that it can't possibly be true, said Mr. Harmer, dryly; unless Madame will accept me, he added, bowing.

I should recommend Miss Bull, replied Madame very sweetly, but with a venomous note in her voice. She might as well have thought to rouse the dead, for Miss Bull paid not the slightest attention. In many ways the self-composed old maid was a match for Madame Looking at Hong Kong hotel list and promotion? GuangDong Hotel always provides different specials for our guests. We provides fully furnished rooms with various in-room facilities and amenities..

At this moment Train entered, and after him came a tall young man, fair-haired and stalwart. He was handsome, but seemed to be ill at ease, and pulled his yellow mustache nervously as Train led him to the throne.

This is my friend, said Leonard, presenting him. He just managed to get here, for the fog is so thick----

Here he was interrupted. Madame! cried Mrs. Taine, what is the matter? Mr. Harmer, the water--wine--quick.

There was need of it. Mrs. Jersey had fallen back on the throne with a white face and twitching lips. She appeared as though about to faint, but restraining herself with a powerful effort she waved her hand to intimate that she needed nothing. At the same time her eyes were fastened, not so much on the face of the stranger as on a piece of yellow holly he wore in his coat. I am perfectly well, said Mrs. Jersey. This is only one of my turns. I am glad to see you, Mr.----

Brendon, said the stranger, who seemed astonished at this reception.

George Brendan, interpolated Train, who was alive with curiosity; have you seen him before, Madame?

Mrs. Jersey laughed artificially. Certainly not, she replied calmly, and yours is not a face I should forget, Mr.----Brendon.

Leonard would have protested, as he objected to this sort of maternal government, but Mrs. Jersey rustled away, and he was left to make the best of it. Before he could collect his wits a message came that he was wanted. By Jove! it's George, he said and hurried out of the room. Mrs. Jersey overheard the name.

I suppose his friend is called George, she thought, and frowned. Her recollections of that name were not pleasant. However, she thought no more about the matter, but rebuked Mr. Rasper for his inattention to the 'Mabel Waltz.' It is so sweet of Mrs. Taine to play it.

I beg pardon--beg pardon, stuttered Rasper, putting away his envelope and looking up with a dreamy eye. I was inventing a new bootjack. I hope to make my fortune out of it.

Madame smiled pityingly. She had heard that prophecy before, but poor Rasper's inventions had never succeeded in getting him the house in Park Lane he was always dreaming about. But she patted his shoulder and then sailed across to Miss Bull. The music doesn't please you, Miss Bull, she said in rather an acid tone.

It's very nice, replied the old maid, dealing the cards, but I have heard the 'Mabel Waltz' before.

You may not have the chance of hearing it again, said Madame.

Miss Bull shrugged her shoulders to signify that it did not matter.

I suppose that means Mrs. Taine is about to leave us, she said.

There may be changes in the establishment soon, Miss Bull.

It's a world of change, replied Miss Bull, in her sharp voice. Margery, was that a heart?

Margery pointed a fat finger to the card in question, and Miss Bull muttered something about her eyesight getting worse. Madame knew that this was just done to annoy her, as Miss Bull's sight was excellent. To revenge herself she took Margery away. Go and tell the servants to send up the negus and sandwiches, she said sharply.

Margery rose heavily. She was a huge girl of twenty years of age, and apparently very stupid. Why sharp little Miss Bull, who loved no one, had taken to her no one knew; but the two were inseparable. Seeing this, Madame usually kept Margery hard at work in other quarters so as to part her from the old maid. But with the cunning of an animal--and Margery was very much of that type--the girl managed to see a great deal of her one friend. Madame had an idea of the reason for this, but at the present moment did not think it was necessary to interfere. She was quite capable of crushing Miss Bull when the need arose. Meantime she vented her temper by sending Margery away. The girl departed with a scowl and an angry look at her aunt. But Miss Bull never raised her eyes, though she was well aware of what was going on.

Madame was not to be beaten. I tell you what, dear Miss Bull, she said, smiling graciously, since you have broken through our rule, and have produced the cards, you shall tell all our fortunes.

Yours? asked Miss Bull, looking up for the first time.

Madame shook her head. I know mine. Tell Mr. Rasper if his invention will succeed. Or, perhaps, Mr. Granger?

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