When William Came HTML version

The Little Foxes
“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines”
On a warm and sunny May afternoon, some ten months since Yeovil’s return from his
Siberian wanderings and sickness, Cicely sat at a small table in the open-air restaurant in
Hyde Park, finishing her after-luncheon coffee and listening to the meritorious
performance of the orchestra. Opposite her sat Larry Meadowfield, absorbed for the
moment in the slow enjoyment of a cigarette, which also was not without its short-lived
merits. Larry was a well-dressed youngster, who was, in Cicely’s opinion, distinctly
good to look on—an opinion which the boy himself obviously shared. He had the
healthy, well-cared-for appearance of a country-dweller who has been turned into a town
dandy without suffering in the process. His blue-black hair, growing very low down on a
broad forehead, was brushed back in a smoothness that gave his head the appearance of a
rain-polished sloe; his eyebrows were two dark smudges and his large violet-grey eyes
expressed the restful good temper of an animal whose immediate requirements have been
satisfied. The lunch had been an excellent one, and it was jolly to feed out of doors in the
warm spring air—the only drawback to the arrangement being the absence of mirrors.
However, if he could not look at himself a great many people could look at him.
Cicely listened to the orchestra as it jerked and strutted through a fantastic dance
measure, and as she listened she looked appreciatively at the boy on the other side of the
table, whose soul for the moment seemed to be in his cigarette. Her scheme of life,
knowing just what you wanted and taking good care that you got it, was justifying itself
by results. Ronnie, grown tiresome with success, had not been difficult to replace, and no
one in her world had had the satisfaction of being able to condole with her on the
undesirable experience of a long interregnum. To feminine acquaintances with fewer
advantages of purse and brains and looks she might figure as “that Yeovil woman,” but
never had she given them justification to allude to her as “poor Cicely Yeovil.” And
Murrey, dear old soul, had cooled down, as she had hoped and wished, from his white
heat of disgust at the things that she had prepared herself to accept philosophically. A
new chapter of their married life and man-and-woman friendship had opened; many a
rare gallop they had had together that winter, many a cheery dinner gathering and long
bridge evening in the cosy hunting-lodge. Though he still hated the new London and
held himself aloof from most of her Town set, yet he had not shown himself rigidly
intolerant of the sprinkling of Teuton sportsmen who hunted and shot down in his part of
the country.
The orchestra finished its clicking and caracoling and was accorded a short clatter of
“The Danse Macabre,” said Cicely to her companion; “one of Saint-Saëns’ best known