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T was Lady Windermere's last reception before Easter, and Bentinck House was even more crowded than usual. Six Cabinet Ministers had come on from the Speaker's Levée in their stars and ribands, all the pretty women wore their smartest dresses, and at the end of the picture-gallery stood the Princess Sophia of Carlsruhe, a heavy Tartar-looking lady, with tiny black eyes and wonderful emeralds, talking bad French at the top of her voice, and laughing immoderately at everything that was said to her. It was certainly a wonderful medley of people. Gorgeous peeresses chatted affably to violent Radicals, popular preachers brushed on im coat-tails with eminent sceptics, a perfect bevy of bishops kept following a stout prima-donna from room to room, on the staircase stood several Royal Academicians, disguised as artists, and it was said that at one time the supperroom was absolutely crammed with geniuses.



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As soon as she had gone, Lady Windermere
returned to the picture-gallery, where a cele-
brated political economist was solemnly explain-
ing the scientific theory of music to an indignant
virtuoso from Hungary, and began to talk to
the Duchess of Paisley. She looked wonder-
fully beautiful with her grand ivory throat, her
large blue forget-me-not eyes, and her heavy
coils of golden hair, Or pur they were—not
that pale straw colour that nowadays usurps
the gracious name of gold, but such gold as
is woven into sunbeams or hidden in strange
amber; and they gave to her face something of
the frame of a saint, with not a little of the
fascination of a sinner. She was a curious
Early in life she had dis-
the psychological study.
covered the important truth that nothing looks
so like innocence as an indiscretion; and by a
series of reckless escapades, half of them quite
harmless, she had acquired all the privileges of
vsa personality. She had more than once changed
her husband; indeed, Debrett credits her with
three marriages; but as she had never changed
her lover, the world had long ago ceased to talk
scandal about her. She was now forty years of
age, childless, and with that inordinate passion

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In fact, it was one of Lady Windermere's best
nights, and the Princess stayed till nearly half-
past eleven.

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for pleasure which is the secret of remaining young.

Suddenly she looked eagerly round the room, and said, in her clear contralto voice, Where is my cheiromantist?'

'Your what, Gladys?' exclaimed the Duchess, giving an involuntary start.

'My cheiromantist, Duchess; I can't live without him at present.'

'Dear Gladys! you are always so original,’† murmured the Duchess, trying to remember what a cheiromantist really was, and hoping it was not the same as a cheiropodist.



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'He comes to see my hand twice a week regularly,' continued Lady Windermere, and is most interesting about it.'

'Good heavens!' said the Duchess to herself, 'he is a sort of cheiropodist after all. How very dreadful. I hope he is a foreigner at any rate. It wouldn't be quite so bad then.'

'I must certainly introduce him to you.'


Introduce him!' cried the Duchess; 'you don't mean to say he is here?' and she began looking about for a small tortoise-shell fan and a -> very tattered lace shawl, so as to be ready to go

at a moment's notice.

'Of course he is here; I would not dream of giving a party without him. He tells me I have a pure psychic hand, and that if my thumb

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