The?opening bars of a waltz sounded through the house above the irregular murmur of conversation, bearing their promise and summons along festal co
rridors and into garlanded nooks and alcoves. Paul Middleton drew a breath of relief as the girl to whom he had been talking was carried off to dance, for she had bored him intolerably. The refreshment room, crowded a moment ago, was thinning down, and, glad of the respite, he took another sandwich and slowly sipped the remainder of his coffee. His humour was of the worst. If his hostess had not been his mother’s oldest friend, he would never have?allowed himself to be persuaded to accept her invitation after he had once decided to decline it. Why had his mother so persisted, when she knew very well he was looking forward to playing in an important chess match? Certainly the evening so far had not compensated him for the pleasure he had thus missed.