om, for dinner was served and most of the brilliant parties had already gone to their respective tables.
Surely she would come, he told himself; something unavoidable had detained her. Lady Rainsford was much too conscientious to leave an unfortunate young man in the lurch without sending at least a substitute--yet, with it all, there was the sickening suspicion that she might have met with a carriage accident in crowded Piccadilly; have received, as she was on the point of starting, the news of some near relative's death; some untoward accident or stroke of fate, which took no count of social obligations, and would leave him in this most awful predicament. Why had he departed from his invariable rule of asking two married ladies--what if it did cramp him in the number of his guests? Anything was better than this suspense! If fate was only kind to him this once, he vowed he would never, as long as he lived, tempt her again in this respect.
Hark--what was that! a hansom was driving at break-neck
Nicely written 1901 novel of romantic intrigue: A young diplomat from South America, attached to his country's British legation, more or less accidentally becomes entangled with three women — a lovely, now unhappily married woman out of his past; a prim, titled and wealthy young English lady; and a pretty Irish lass of uncertain repute — amid a treasonous plot to bribe national officials. He's honorable but very naive, and his refusal to believe any ill of the Irishwoman, with whom he fancies himself in love, draws him deeper into the mess.
While it's easy reading, enjoyment of the novel requires understanding of period societal standards and sensibilities no longer valid today. Some other aspects, such as the government's reluctance to prosecute the plotters, seem a trifle unbelievable. Beyond that, it's a good read.