‘Hallo, old chap,’ said St. John, who had spotted them across the room and now came to join them. ‘Mildred, what are you doing here? Shouldn’t have thought this was your sort of crowd, what?’
‘Of course it’s my sort of crowd,’ said Mildred. ‘I do go out occasionally, you know.’
‘But does your mother know you’re here?’
‘I don’t tell her everything I do,’ she replied loftily. ‘Give me a cigarette, Freddy.’
Freddy, who was just in the act of lighting his own, looked up in surprise, but she gave him a meaningful stare and he took the hint and offered her his cigarette-case.
‘I didn’t know you smoked,’ said St. John.
‘Didn’t you?’ said Mildred with affected carelessness.
Freddy lit the gasper for her and watched, fascinated, as she drew on it with great determination. He had to admit she pulled it off rather well and hardly coughed at all, although her eyes watered slightly.
‘How does one get a drink here?’ she said, once she was able to speak.
‘I say, Mildred,’ said St. John, as though looking at her in a new light. ‘I had no idea you drank, too.’
‘I don’t drink,’ she said with dignity. ‘But this is a party, and I don’t see how one little one can hurt. Freddy, go and get me a—a—cocktail.’
‘I don’t know about cocktails,’ said Freddy, ‘but there might be some wine. Let’s go and see.’
He took hold of Mildred’s arm and conducted her out of the room.
‘What do you think you’re doing?’ he hissed, once they were out of hearing. ‘Your mother will string me up by the eyelashes if she finds out you’ve been smoking and drinking.’
‘I’m just trying to fit in,’ she said. ‘And I’m not really going to drink. I’ll just hold a glass so I look as though I am.’
In the next room they found the drinks laid out on the dining-table. A cheerful young man was helpfully making cocktails for anyone who asked.
‘Gin fizz?’ he said to Mildred.
‘Yes please,’ she said.
‘You’d better put lots of ice in it,’ said Freddy.
They took their drinks. Mildred sipped hers gingerly and made a face.
‘It’s horrid,’ she whispered. ‘Do people really like this stuff?’
‘Oh, yes,’ said Freddy.