“I don’t want to have my performance picked to pieces in that knowing sort of way. I play for my own amusement, and I don’t want to be criticised, and applauded, and patronised.”
“But how can people help applauding when you play? Lady Seely says you play exquisitely.”
“Did she tell you to ask me to play?”
“Not exactly. But she said I might ask you.”
At this moment General Dormer came up, and said, with 佛山夜生活约炮 his most benevolent smile, “Won’t you give us a little music, Miss Kilfinane? Some Beethoven, now! I see a volume of his sonatas on the piano.”
“I hate Beethoven,” returned Miss Kilfinane.
“Hate Beethoven! No, no, you don’t. It’s quite impossible! A pianist like you! Oh no, Miss Kilfinane, it is out of the question.”
“Yes, I do. I hate all classical music, and the sort of stuff that people talk about it.”
The general smiled again, shook his head, shrugged his shoulders, and walked away.
“Miss Kilfinane, you are ferociously cruel!” said Algernon under his breath as General Dormer turned his back on them. The little fear he had had of Castalia’s chilly manner and ungracious tongue had quite vanished. Algernon was not apt to be in awe of anyone; and he certainly was not in awe of Castalia Kilfinane. “Why did you tell the 佛山桑拿qq群 general that you hated Beethoven?” he went on saucily. “I’m quite sure you don’t hate Beethoven!”
“I hate all the kind of professional jargon which the Dormers affect about music. Music is all very well, but it isn’t our business, any more than tailoring or millinery is our business. To hear the Dormers talk, you would think it the most important matter in the world to decide whether this fiddler is better than that fiddler, or what is the right time to play a fugue of Bach’s in.”
“I’m such an ignoramus that I’m afraid I don’t even know with any precision what a fugue of Bach’s is!” said Algernon, ingenuously. He thought he had learned to understand Miss Castalia. Nevertheless, when, later in the evening, Lady Harriet asked him in her pretty silver tones, “And do you, too, hate classical music, Mr. Errington?” he professed the 佛山桑拿0757 most unbounded love and reverence for the great masters. “I have had few opportunities of hearing fine music, Lady Harriet,” said he; “but it is the thing I have longed for all my life.” Whereupon Lady Harriet, much pleased at the prospect of such a disciple, invited him to go to her house every Saturday morning, when he would hear some of the best performers in London execute some of the best music. “I only ask real listeners,” said Lady Harriet. “We are just a few music-lovers who take the thing very much au sérieux.”
On the whole, when Algernon thought over his evening, sitting over the fire in his bedroom at the inn, he acknowledged to himself that he had been successful. “Lady Seely is the toughest customer, though! What a fish-wife she looks beside that elegant Lady Harriet! But she can put on airs of a great lady too, 佛山桑拿体验报告 when she likes. It’s a very fine line that divides dignity from impudence. Take her wig off, wash her face, and clothe her in a short cotton gown with a white apron, and how many people would know that Belinda, Lady Seely, had ever been anything but a cook, or the landlady of a public-house? Well, I think I am cleverer than any of ’em. And, after all, that’s a great point.” With which comfortable reflection Algernon Ancram Errington went to bed, and to sleep.
On the day following the dinner at Lord Seely’s, Algernon received a card, importing that Mrs. Machyn-Stubbs would be at home that evening.
Of the lady he knew nothing, except that she was an elder sister of young Pawkins, of Pudcombe Hall; and that her family, who were people of consideration in Whitford and its neighbourhood, thought Jemima to have made a good match in marrying Mr. Machyn-Stubbs. In giving him the letter of introduction, Orlando Pawkins had let fall a word or two as to the position his sister held in London society.
“I can’t send anybody and everybody to the Machyn-Stubbses,” said young Pawkins. “In their position, it wouldn’t be fair to inflict our bucolic magnates on them. But I’m sure Jemima will be very glad to make your acquaintance, old fellow.”
Algernon was quite free from arrogance. He would have been well enough contented to dine with Mr. Machyn-Stubbs, had that gentleman been a grocer or a cheesemonger. And, in that case, he would probably have
derived a good deal of amusement from any little vulgarities which might have marked the manners of his host, and would have entertained his genteeler friends by a humorous imitation of the same. But he was not in the least overawed by the prospect of meeting Mrs. Machyn-Stubbs, and was quite aware that he probably owed his introduction to her, to young Pawkins’s knowledge of the fact that he was Lady Seely’s relation.
Algernon betook himself to the house of Mrs. Machyn-Stubbs, in the fashionable neighbourhood before mentioned, about half-past ten o’clock, and found the small reception-rooms already fuller than was agreeable. Mrs. Machyn-Stubbs received him very graciously. She was a pretty woman, with a smooth fair face and light hair, and she was dressed with as much good taste as was compatible with the extreme of the prevailing fashion. She smiled a good deal, and was quite destitute of any sense of humour.
“So glad to see you, Mr. Errington,” said she, when Algernon had made his bow. “You and Orlando are great friends, are you not? You must let me make you acquainted with my husband.” Then she handed Algernon over to a stout, red-faced, white-haired gentleman, much older than herself, who shook hands with him, said, “How d’ye do?” and “How long have you been in town?” and then appeared to consider that he had done all that could be expected of him in the way of conversation.
“I suppose you don’t know many people here, Mr. Errington?” said Mrs. Machyn-Stubbs, seeing that Algernon was standing silent in the shadow of her husband.
“Not any. You know I have never been in London before.”
“Haven’t you, really? But perhaps we may have some mutual acquaintances notwithstanding. Let me see who is here!” said the lady, looking round her rooms.
“Are you acquainted with the Dormers, Mrs. Machyn-Stubbs?”
“The Dormers? Let me see——”
“General and Lady Harriet Dormer.”
“Oh! no; I don’t think I am. Of course I must have met them. In the course of the season, sooner or later, one meets everybody.”
“Do you know Miss Kilfinane?”
“Miss Kilfinane? I—I can’t recall at this moment——”
“She is a sort of connection of mine; not a relation, for she is Lord Seely’s niece, not my lady’s.”
“Oh, to be sure! You are a cousin of Lady Seely. Yes, yes; I had forgotten. But Orlando did mention it.”
In truth, the fact of Algernon’s relationship to 佛山桑拿0757n Lady Seely was the only one concerning him which had dwelt in Mrs. Machyn-Stubbs’s memory. Presently she resumed:
“I should like to introduce you to a great friend of ours—the most delightful creature! I hope he will come to-night, but he is very difficult to catch. He is a son of Lord Mullingar.”
“What, Jack Price?”
“Oh, you know him, do you?”
“Only by reputation. He was to have dined at Lord Seely’s last night, when I was there. But he didn’t show.”
“Oh, I know he’s dreadfully uncertain. But I must say, however, that he is generally very good about coming to me. It’s quite wonderful. I’m sure I don’t know why I am so favoured!”
Then Algernon was presented to a rather awful dowager, with two stiff daughters, to whom he talked as well as he could; and the nicest looking of whom he took into the tea-room, where there was 佛山桑拿按摩一条龙 a great crush, and where people trod on each other’s toes, and poked their elbows into each other’s ribs, to procure a cup of hay-coloured tea and a biscuit that had seen better days.
“Upon my word,” thought Algernon, “if this is London society, I think Whitford society better fun.” But then he reflected that Mrs. Machyn-Stubbs was not a real leader of fashionable society. She was not quite a rose herself, although she lived near enough to the roses for their scent to cling, more or less faintly, about her garments. He was not bored, for his quick powers of perception, and lively appreciation of the ludicrous, enabled him to gather considerable amusement from the scene. Especially did he feel amused and in his element when, on an allusion to his cousinship to Lady Seely, thrown out in the airiest, most haphazard way, the 佛山夜网狼女 awful dowager and the stiff daughters unbent, and became as gracious as temperament in the one case, and painfully tight stays in the other, permitted.
“He’s a very agreeable person, your young friend, Mr. Ancram Errington,” said the dowager, later on in the evening, to Mrs. Machyn-Stubbs.
“Oh yes; he’s very nice indeed. He is a great favourite with my people. He half lives at our place, I believe, when Orlando is at home.”