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MALLOCK W.
In an enchanted island
page 52

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AN UNEXPECTED TEA-PARTY 49 and there were some small tables and ottomans. Out of this opened the drawing-room and various bedrooms—my own amongst the number. My port-manteaus, I found, were by this time duly in their places ; and my hostess left me to arrange myself after my dusty journey. I resolved, whilst annoying myself over the troubles of unpacking, to engage Scotty for my servant during my stay in the island—• a contingency which, I believe, he foresaw from the first- himself. By the time I had shaved and dressed it was already five o'clock, and the dim blue twilight without was falling rapidly over everything. As I emerged and approached the drawing-room, I was sur-prised by a babble of voices, and on entering I found Mrs. Falkland entertaining a large tea-party. The high room, roofed with dark open rafters, was full of shadow, despite some glimmering lamps; and the forms and faces of the company were all mysterious and uncertain. I was never able to identify a single member of it afterwards, but they all must have belonged to the English colony of officials, to whom Mrs. Falkland was at home on periodical occasions. I listened in silence to the conversation round me, and never had I listened to any with a more singular flavour. The dozen or so of visitors, it seemed, were of all ages—girls, old ladies, and youngish and middle-aged men. Some of them talked of practising hymns for the church, others of hunting, of races, of last year's picnics, and the glories of a possible ball. In many respects, no E

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