|Willow's Magpie 33|
Elegant, sleek and light-footed, he walked into the room.
On entering the hall, he had removed his hat, placing it on the hat stand provided for the purpose.
The assembled company, as if drawn by invisible strings held in the hands of an invisible puppet master, turned towards the door. Momentarily, the hum of conversation lessened. With all eyes on him, he stood still, nonchalantly and supremely confident, framed by the doorway just behind him.
Mrs. Montgomery came towards him; stretching out her hand. Lightly, he took it, bowed his head, and left the merest suggestion of a kiss on it. She led him into the centre of the room, to the group assembled there. She smiled and the group opened up to admit the newcomer.
Miss Marjorie had coloured slightly when she had first seen him. Proximity to the man she secretly, if ill-advisedly, adored, always made her nervous. She hoped no one had noticed the slight tremor of the hand holding her glass; but all was well, nobody had noticed. Nobody ever noticed her. She sighed, raising her hand to her forehead, as if to wipe away the sad thought. As she did so, she spilled a small amount of wine, leaving a tiny red puddle on her arm.
Instantly, he withdrew the snowy white handkerchief from his top pocket to assist her, wiping the spill.
Col. Bottomley observed this; secretly, he was annoyed at the popinjay, as he called the latecomer. “Not really our sort of chap”, he had said on more than one occasion, “don’t know why Old Montgomery has him in the house”.
“Bit heavy on the old Acqua di Parma, old chap”, he now said, as the fragrance emanating from the scrap of cloth hit his nostrils, allowing a faint hint of distaste into the words.