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The Toys of Peace and Other Stories

The Phantom Luncheon
"The Smithly-Dubbs are in Town," said Sir James. "I wish you would show them some
attention. Ask them to lunch with you at the Ritz or somewhere."
"From the little I've seen of the Smithly-Dubbs I don't thing I want to cultivate their
acquaintance," said Lady Drakmanton.
"They always work for us at election times," said her husband; "I don't suppose they
influence very many votes, but they have an uncle who is on one of my ward committees,
and another uncle speaks sometimes at some of our less important meetings. Those sort
of people expect some return in the shape of hospitality."
"Expect it!" exclaimed Lady Drakmanton; "the Misses Smithly-Dubb do more than that;
they almost demand it. They belong to my club, and hang about the lobby just about
lunch-time, all three of them, with their tongues hanging out of their mouths and the six-
course look in their eyes. If I were to breathe the word 'lunch' they would hustle me into a
taxi and scream 'Ritz' or 'Dieudonne's' to the driver before I knew what was happening."
"All the same, I think you ought to ask them to a meal of some sort," persisted Sir James.
"I consider that showing hospitality to the Smithly-Dubbs is carrying Free Food
principles to a regrettable extreme," said Lady Drakmanton; "I've entertained the Joneses
and the Browns and the Snapheimers and the Lubrikoffs, and heaps of others whose
names I forget, but I don't see why I should inflict the society of the Misses Smithly-
Dubb on myself for a solid hour. Imagine it, sixty minutes, more or less, of unrelenting
gobble and gabble. Why can't YOU take them on, Milly?" she asked, turning hopefully to
her sister.
"I don't know them," said Milly hastily.
"All the better; you can pass yourself off as me. People say that we are so alike that they
can hardly tell us apart, and I've only spoken to these tiresome young women about twice
in my life, at committee-rooms, and bowed to them in the club. Any of the club page-
boys will point them out to you; they're always to be found lolling about the hall just
before lunch-time."
"My dear Betty, don't be absurd," protested Milly; "I've got some people lunching with
me at the Carlton to-morrow, and I'm leaving Town the day afterwards."
"What time is your lunch to-morrow?" asked Lady Drakmanton reflectively.
"Two o'clock," said Milly.
 
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