288 MOLLY BAWN.
conversation throughout the evening with as many embar-
rassing remarks as he can conveniently put in.
'Eaten bread is soon forgotten,' says he sententiously
during a pause. ' You all seem strangely oblivious of the
fact that last night there was a ball in this house. Why
shirk the subject? I like talking,' says Mr. Potts super-
fiuously, ' and surely you must all have something to com¬
municate concerning it. Thanks to our own exertions, I
think it was as good a one as ever I was at; and the old
boy'—(I need scarcely say Mr. Amherst has retired to rest)
' was uucommon decent about giving us the best champagne.'
' You took very good care to show him how you appre¬
ciated his hospitality,' says Sir Penthony mildly.
' Well, why shouldn't I do honour to the occasion? A
ball at Herst don't come every day. As a rule, an affair of
the kind at a country house is a failure, as the guests quarrel
dreadfully amongst themselves next day; but ours has been
a brilliant exception.'
' Brilliant indeed,' says Lady Stafford demru'ely,
'But what became of Lowry?' demands this wretched
young man, who has never yet learned that silence is golden,
' He told me this morning he intended staying on until the
end of the week, and off he goes to liOndon by the mid-day
train without a word of warning. IMust have heard some
unpleasant news, I shouldn't wonder, he looked so awfully
cut up. Did he tell you anything about it?' To Lady
' No.' In a freezing tone. ' I see no reason why I in
particular should be bored by IMr. Lowry's private woes.'
' Well, you were such a friend, you know, for one thing,'
says Potts, surprised, but obtuse as ever.
' So I am of yours; but I sincerely trust the fact of my
being so will not induce you to come weeping to me when¬
ever you chance to lose your heart or place all your money
on the wrong horse.'
' Did he lose his money, then ?'
' Plantagenet, dancing has muddled your brain. How
should I know whether he lost his money or not ? 1 am
merely supposing. You are dull to-night. Come and play
a game at ecarte with me, to see if it may rouse you.'
They part for the night rather earlier than usual,
pleading fatigue—all except Mr. Potts, who declares himself