Peter Ruff and the Double Four
I.4. The Indiscretion Of Letty Shaw
Amidst a storm of whispered criticisms, the general opinion was that Letty Shaw
was a silly little fool who ought to have known better. When she had entered the
restaurant a few minutes before midnight, followed by Austen Abbott, every one
looked to see a third person following them. No third person, however, appeared.
Gustav himself conducted them to a small table laid for two, covered with pink
roses, and handed his fair client the menu of a specially ordered supper. There
was no gainsaying the fact that Letty and her escort proposed supping alone!
The Caf=82 at the Milan was, without doubt, the fashionable rendezvous of the
moment for those ladies connected with the stage who, after their performance,
had not the time or the inclination to make the conventional toilet demanded by
the larger restaurants. Letty Shaw, being one of the principal ornaments of the
musical comedy stage, was well known to every one in the room. There was
scarcely a person there who within the last fortnight had not found an opportunity
of congratulating her upon her engagement to Captain the Honourable Brian
Sotherst. Sotherst was rich, and one of the most popular young men about town.
Letty Shaw, although she had had one or two harmless flirtations, was well
known as a self-respecting and hard-working young actress who loved her work,
and against whom no one had ever had a word to say. Consequently, the shock
was all the greater when, within a fortnight of her engagement, she was thus to
be seen openly supping alone with the most notorious woman hunter about town
- a man of bad reputation, a man, too, towards whom Sotherst was known to
have a special aversion. Nothing but a break with Sotherst or a fit of temporary
insanity seemed to explain, even inadequately, the situation.
Her best friend - the friend who knew her and believed in her - rose to her feet
and came sailing down the room. She nodded gaily to Abbott, whom she hated,
and whom she had not recognized for years, and laid her hand upon Letty's arm.