Lady Downham smiled when the young earl made his request.
"I have been besieged by gentlemen requesting introductions to Miss Earle," she said. "Contrary to your general rule, Lord Airlie, you go with the crowd."
He would have gone anywhere for one word from those perfect lips. Lady Downham led him to the spot where Beatrice stood, and in a few courteous words introduced him to her.
Lord Airlie was celebrated for his amiable, pleasing manner. He always knew what to say and how to say it, but when those magnificent eyes looked into his own, the young earl stood silent and abashed. In vain he tried confusedly to utter a few words; his face flushed, and Beatrice looked at him in wonder.--Could this man gazing so ardently at her be the impenetrable Lord Airlie?
He managed at length to say something about the beauty of the grounds and the brightness of the day. Plainly as eyes could speak, hers asked: Had he nothing to say?
He lingered by her side, charmed and fascinated by her grace; she talked to Lillian and to Lady Helena; she received the homage offered to her so unconscious of his presence and his regard that Lord Airlie was piqued. He was not accustomed to being overlooked.
"Do you never grow tired of flowers and fetes, Miss Earle?" he asked at length.
"No," replied Beatrice, "I could never grow tired of flowers-- who could? As for fetes, I have seen few, and have liked each one better than the last."