The Evil Shepherd
It would have puzzled anybody, except, perhaps, Lady Cynthia herself, to have detected
the slightest alteration in Sir Timothy's demeanour during the following day, when he
made fitful appearances at The Sanctuary, or at the dinner which was served a little
earlier than usual, before his final departure for the scene of the festivities. Once he
paused in the act of helping himself to some dish and listened for a moment to the sound
of voices in the hall, and when a taxicab drove up he set down his glass and again
betrayed some interest.
"The maid with my frock, thank heavens!" Lady Cynthia announced, glancing out of the
window. "My last anxiety is removed. I am looking forward now to a wonderful night."
"You may very easily be disappointed," her host warned her. "My entertainments appeal
more, as a rule, to men."
"Why don't you be thoroughly original and issue no invitations to women at all?"
"For the same reason that you adorn your rooms and the dinner-table with flowers," he
answered. "One needs them--as a relief. Apart from that, I am really proud of my
dancing-room, and there again, you see, your sex is necessary."
"We are flattered," Margaret declared, with a little bow. "It does seem queer to think that
you should own what Cynthia's cousin, Davy Hinton, once told me was the best floor in
London, and that I have never danced on it."
"Nor I," Lady Cynthia put in. "There might have been some excuse for not asking you,
Margaret, but why an ultra-Bohemian like myself has had to beg and plead for an
invitation, I really cannot imagine."
"You might find," Sir Timothy said, "you may even now--that some of my men guests
are not altogether to your liking."
"Quite content to take my risk," Lady Cynthia declared cheerfully. "The man with the
best manners I ever met--it was at one of Maggie's studio dances, too--was a bookmaker.
And a retired prize-fighter brought me home once from an Albert Hall dance."
"How did he behave?" Francis asked.
"He was wistful but restrained," Lady Cynthia replied, "quite the gentleman, in fact."
"You encourage me to hope for the best," Sir Timothy said, rising to his feet. "You will
excuse me now? I have a few final preparations to make."