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“Oh, look, dear, there’s that poor Walter Bassett.”

Amber Roan looked down from the roof of the drag at the crossing restless shuttles, weaving with feminine woof and masculine warp the multi-coloured web of Society in London’s cricket Coliseum.

“Where?” she murmured, her eye wandering over the little tract of sunlit green between the coaches with their rival Eton and Harrow favours. Before Lady Chelmer had time to bend her pink parasol a little more definitely, a thunder of applause turned Amber Roan’s face back towards the wickets, with a piqued expression.

“It’s real mean,” she said. “What have I missed now?”

“Only a good catch,” said the Hon. Tolshunt Darcy, whose eyes had never faltered from her face.

“My, that’s just the one thing I’ve been dying for,” she pouted self-mockingly.

“Poor Walter Bassett,” Lady Chelmer repeated. “I knew his mother.”

“Where?” Amber asked again.

“In Huntingdonshire, before the property went to Algy–“

“No, no, Lady Chelmer; I mean, where is poor Walter Whatsaname now?”

“Why, right here,” said Lady Chelmer, involuntarily borrowing from the vocabulary of her young American protegee.

“Walter Bassett!” said the Hon. Tolshunt, languidly. “Isn’t that the chap that’s always getting chucked out of Parliament?”

“But his name doesn’t sound Irish?” queried Amber.

“What are you talking about, Amber!” cried Lady Chelmer. “Why, he comes of a good old Huntingdon family. If he had been his own elder brother, he’d have got in long ago.”

“Oh, you mean he never gets into Parliament,” said Amber.

“Serve him right. I believe he’s one of those independent nuisances,” said the old Marquis of Woodham. “How is one ever to govern the country, if every man is a party unto himself?” He said “one,” but only out of modesty; for having once accepted a minor post in a Ministry that the Premier in posse had not succeeded in forming, he had retained a Cabinet air ever since.

“Well, the beggar will scarcely come up at Highmead for a third licking,” observed the Hon. Tolshunt.

“No, poor Walter,” said Lady Chelmer. “He thought he’d be sure to get in this time, but he’s quite crushed now. Wasn’t it actually two thousand votes less than last time?”

“Two thousand and thirty-three,” replied Lord Woodham, with punctilious inaccuracy.

Involuntarily Amber’s eyes turned in search of the crushed candidate whom she almost saw flattened beneath the 2033 votes, and whom it would scarcely have been a surprise to find asquat under a carriage, humbly assisting the footmen to pack the dirty plates. But before she had time to decide which of the unlively men, loitering round the carriages or helping stout old dowagers up slim iron ladders, was sufficiently lugubrious to be identified as the martyr of the ballot-box, she was absorbed by a tall, masterful figure, whose face had the radiance of easeful success, and whose hands were clapping at some nuance of style which had escaped the palms of the great circular mob.

“I can’t see any Walter Bassett,” she murmured absently.

“Why, you are staring straight at him,” said Lady Chelmer.

Miss Roan did not reply, but her face was eloquent of her astonishment, and when her face spoke, it was with that vivacity which is the American accent of beauty. What wonder if the Hon. Tolshunt Darcy paid heed to it, although he liked what it said less than the form of expression! As he used to put it in after days, “She gave one look, and threw herself away from the top of that drag.” The more literal truth was that she drew Walter Bassett up to the top of that drag.

Lady Chelmer protested in vain that she could not halloo to the man.

“You knew his mother,” Amber replied. “And he’s got no seat.”

“Quite symbolical! He, he, he!” and the old Marquis chuckled and cackled in solitary amusement. “Let’s offer him one,” he went on, half to enjoy the joke a little longer, half to utilise the opportunity of bringing his Ministerial wisdom to bear upon this erratic young man.