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ranged, and the expedition fixed for the following Wednesday by Mr. Travers, who said, 'The middle of the week is always best; one can enjoy one's-self in one's own way without being disgusted by seeing too many other people enjoying themselves in theirs.'
He and Kirkdale left the house together.
'My sister does not like you,' said Kirkdale.
'I am most fortunate.'
4 How so?'
'The degrees in a woman's favour are, interest, dislike; interest, hate; interest—well, I suppose I may say more interest.'
'Why do you hesitate, old fellow?'
'Lady Geraldine is a woman who wants a special language to express her. Unfortunately for me, I have not learned it yet.'
'It would please her to hear that.'
'Would it? Then tell her,' and Travers gently stroked his moustache as they turned into Piccadilly.
Lady Geraldine left the drawing-room by one door as her brother and George Travers quitted it by the other. So that Lady Kirkdale and Mr. Clausen were left tite-a-tite. She turned to him and said, 'What is your opinion of this man?'
'He is the sort of danger Stephen is bound to encounter sooner or later. The sooner it is over the better; young men must be initiated personally into the mysteries of life, no mother can bear the tests for them.'
'You are quite right there; but I could have wished the serpent of Stephen's choice had taken another form.'
'There I disagree with you; if you had had a free hand in the matter I don't think you could have chosen better.'
Lady Geraldine re-entered ; her mother made room for her beside her on the sofa, and said, 'We were talking of Mr. Travers; what do you think of him?'
'I dislike him, and told Stephen I did so; there is an uncomfortable feeling that you are walking on very thin ice when you are talking to him. I wish we had not arranged this visit to Old Windsor.'
'Shall we write and put him off? We had other engagements for the day; I can easily make excuses.'
'Oh no, we had better go. The country air will be pleasant in any case.'
'And how are you getting through your first season, Lady Geraldine?' said Mr. Clausen.
'I feel as if I had been through it again and again before. It interested me at first; it was amusing to see my sisters' old experiences renewing themselves as my turn came. But it is terrible to think that whether you are in it or not, the world goes on just the same: in another season, girls now in the schoolroom will be going through the mill exactly in the same way as I am doing. How one longs for something different!'
'Yes we all have felt that. I believe it is the strongest passion of the human race to get at "something different"; it is the secret of all sin, the secret of all progress.'
'And it is the function of society to suppress this tendency,' said Lady Kirkdale. 'It crystallises, I may say sanctifies, the present state of things. "Whatever is, is right" must be the ostensible motto of those who would retain their places in it. It is the solid edifice round which an empire is gathered.'
'The solid centre of a very wobbling circumference,' interrupted Mr. Clausen.
'Mr. Travers was saying that the beautiful was only a veil to cover the ridiculous. It seems to me that in the same way the stupidity of society is concealed by hiding it behind very high walls,' murmured Geraldine, as she leaned her head on the broad back of the Chesterfield sofa.
'There you are wrong; those high walls contain everything. There is nothing without that is not within; the only difference is that people in society keep within bounds, others do not.'
'That is a great deal to be thankful for,' said Lady Kirkdale. 'I once had to go down to Richmond by the last underground train from Hampstead on a Saturday night. I have had a good deal of experience, but never have I witnessed such a pandemonium. I would not enter one of those underground stations, when the rabble is at large, to save a hundred pounds.'
'All vice loses its attraction when it is seen from the outside,' said Mr. Clausen.
'Has vice any attraction?' asked Geraldine.
'Not to the refined or cultivated pleasureseeker, but the crude youngster often finds himself thoroughly enjoying the most vulgar vices: it is only after being repeatedly shocked at the appearance of other people when they are enjoying similar ecstasies that our cultivated