tairs to the drawing-room.
“I’m afraid you were bored, Mr. Errington. I am sorry, for your sake, that Mr. Price did not honour us with his company. You would have found him much more amusing than us old fogies.”
Algernon knew, when Lord Seely talked of Mr. Price not having honoured them with his company, that my lord was indignant against that gentleman. “I have no doubt Mr. Price is a very agreeable person,” said he, “but I did not regret him, my lord. I thought it a great privilege to be allowed to listen to you.”
Later in the evening Algy overheard Lord Seely say to General 鏉窞妗戞嬁鍝噷鏈€濂借鍧?Dormer, “He’s a remarkably intelligent young fellow, I assure you.”
“He has a capital manner,” returned the general. “There is something very taking about him, indeed.”
“Oh yes, manner; yes; a very good manner鈥攂ut there’s more judgment, more solidity about him than appears on the surface.”
Meanwhile, Algernon went on flourishingly, and ingratiated himself with every one. He steered his way, with admirable tact, past various perils, such as must inevitably threaten one who aims at universal popularity. Lady Harriet was delighted 鏉窞淇濆仴鎸夋懇鐢佃瘽 with his singing, and Lady Harriet’s expressed approbation pleased Lady Seely; for the Dormers were considered to be great musical connoisseurs, and their judgment had considerable weight among their own set. Their own set further supposed that the verdict of the Dormers was important to professional artists: a 鏉窞榫欏嚖璁哄潧濞变箰 delusion which the givers of second-rate concerts, who depended on Lady Harriet to get rid of many
seven-and-sixpenny tickets during the season, were at no pains to disturb. Then, Algernon took the precaution to keep away from Lord Seely, and to devote himself to my lady, during the remainder of the evening. This behaviour had so good an effect, that she called him “Ancram,” and bade him go and talk to Castalia, who was sitting alone on a distant ottoman, with a distinctly sour expression of countenance.
“How did you get on 鏉窞淇濆仴浼氭墍 with Castalia at dinner?” asked my lady.
“Miss Kilfinane was very kind to me, ma’am.”
“Was she? Well, she don’t make herself agreeable to everybody, so consider yourself honoured. Castalia’s a very clever girl. She can draw, make wax flowers, and play the piano beautifully.”
“Can she really? Will she play 鏉窞spa鍝噷姣旇緝鍒烘縺 to-night?”
“I’m sure I don’t know. Go and ask her.”
“Yes; be off.”
Miss Kilfinane did not move or raise her eyes when Algernon went and stood before her.
“I have come with a petition,” he said, after a little pause.
“Yes; will you play to-night?”
“Oh, that’s very cruel! I wish you would!”
“I don’t like playing before the Dormers. They set up for being such connoisseurs, and I hate that kind of thing.”
“I am sure you can have no reason to fear their criticism.”
“I don’t want to have my 褰╄澏鏉窞鎸夋懇鍏荤敓浼氭墍 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 y