‘Do I hear you taking my name in vain, Freddy?’ said a voice, and they turned to find Mr. Beckwith himself in his regrettable jacket approaching at a most complacent saunter. He made a bee-line for Angela, gave her a ridiculous bow and a leer and said, ‘Caulfield Beckwith at your service, madam.’
‘Angela Marchmont,’ said Mrs. Marchmont, eyeing him with some reserve.
‘Ah, the famous Mrs. Marchmont!’ cried Corky Beckwith sentimentally. ‘Fair of face and unbending of purpose, the scourge of scoundrels and murderers everywhere. Why, I’ll wager that every criminal quakes in his boots whenever he reads your name, and dreads the day when you will point the finger at him and intone, “That is the man, inspector; arrest him!” Meanwhile, Scotland Yard talks of you in hushed tones and hangs upon your every word, even as the society pages gush and chatter in excitement when you single-handedly establish orchid-mauve as the only colour to be seen in this season. Never before have such beauty and such fearsomeness been united in one slight frame. My lady, I lay myself at your feet, your devoted slave.’
He gestured magnificently at the ground before him.
‘Do put a sock in it, Corky,’ said Freddy.
‘Oh, I don’t know,’ said Angela. ‘I was rather enjoying it.’