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Page 156

CHAPTER XI

She knew each halting decision before he made it. Her upturned face embarrassed him. He had to speak. "Jolly good dance," he said.
" Yes," she said. Her blue eyes looked away and her mouth drooped.
" It's an awfully good floor, isn't it ?"
" Perfect."
" I like this tune. What is it ?"
" ` Cat's Cradle.' Do you mind if we sit out ?"
A little hurt, he followed her upstairs to a sofa. He sat staring at his shoes. She leaned back and stretched her arms behind her. Denis wanted to say, " You know, I think you look ripping."
" Do you go to a lot of dances ?" he said.
" A good many. It's my first season, you see."
Denis tied a knot _ in the tassel of his programme. He studied the name of his next partner. He had never found this difficulty in talking to Maureen.
" Are you a cousin of the Peritons' ?" he said.
" No ; why should I be? "
" I don't know," said Denis. " Only nearly everybody seems to be."
" There's the music. We must go back." She got up and he followed her downstairs. " Thanks, very much," he said.
" Thank you," she smiled quickly.
He had booked no partner for the last dance but one. He was hot and he wanted to see himself in a long mirror ; so he went upstairs to his bedroom. The top landing was quiet. He climbed the last stairs and turned the corner. Then he saw them at the end of the bathroom passage. For a second they were together. Eileen's head was thrown back and Matheson was kissing her on the mouth. Her eyes were closed and her arms were quite limp. They jumped apart and sat up. Denis opened the door of his room and closed it behind him. Inside his room he stood still. He stood for five minutes, thinking of nothing. Then he got his handkerchief and went down again. The dance was getting noisy. In the dining-room, rolls and cherry stones flew

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