THAT same evening, John Valliscourt, Esquire, of Valliscourt, sat late over his after-dinner wine, conversing with a languid, handsome-featured person known as Sir Charles Lascelles, Baronet. Sir Charles was a notable figure in 'swagger' society, and he had been acquainted with the Valliscourts for some time; in fact he was almost an 'old friend' of theirs, as social 'old friends' go, that phrase nowadays merely meaning about a year's mutual visiting, without any unpleasant strain on the feelings or the pockets of either party. Whenever the Valliscourts were in town for the season at their handsome residence in Grosvenor Place, Sir Charles was always 'dropping in,' and dropping out again, a constant and welcome guest, a purveyor of fashionable scandals, and a thoroughly reliable informant concerning the ins and outs of the newest approaching divorce. But his appearance at Combmartin
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