The Evil Shepherd
Bored and listless, like a tired and drooping lily in the arms of her somewhat athletic
partner, Lady Cynthia brought her dance to a somewhat abrupt conclusion.
"There is some one in the lounge there to whom I wish to speak," she said. "Perhaps you
won't mind if we finish later. The floor seems sticky tonight, or my feet are heavy."
Her partner made the best of it, as Lady Cynthia's partners, nowadays, generally had to.
She even dispensed with his escort, and walked across the lounge of Claridge's alone. Sir
Timothy rose to his feet. He had been sitting in a corner, half sheltered by a pillar, and
had fancied himself unseen.
"What a relief!" she exclaimed. "Another turn and I should have fainted through sheer
"Yet you are quite wonderful dancing," he said. "I have been watching you for some
"It is one of my expiring efforts," she declared, sinking into the chair by his side. "You
know whose party it is, of course? Old Lady Torrington's. Quite a boy and girl affair.
Twenty-four of us had dinner in the worst corner of the room. I can hear the old lady
ordering the dinner now. Charles with a long menu. She shakes her head and taps him on
the wrist with her fan. 'Monsieur Charles, I am a poor woman. Give me what there is--a
small, plain dinner--and charge me at your minimum.' The dinner was very small and
very plain, the champagne was horribly sweet. My partner talked of a new drill, his last
innings for the Household Brigade, and a wonderful round of golf he played last Sunday
week. I was turned on to dance with a man who asked me to marry him, a year ago, and I
could feel him vibrating with gratitude, as he looked at me, that I had refused. I suppose I
am very haggard."
"Does that matter, nowadays?" Sir Timothy asked.
She shrugged her shoulders.
"I am afraid it does. The bone and the hank of hair stuff is played out. The dairy-maid
style is coming in. Plump little Fanny Torrington had a great success to-night, in one of
those simple white dresses, you know, which look like a sack with a hole cut in the top.
What are you doing here by yourself?"
"I have an engagement in a few minutes," he explained. "My car is waiting now. I looked
in at the club to dine, found my favourite table taken and nearly every man I ever disliked
sidling up to tell me that he hears I am giving a wonderful party on Thursday. I decided
not to dine there, after all, and Charles found me a corner here. I am going in five