Page:Queen Lucia.djvu/46

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the other side) and a clapping of the hands from Peppino.

"Bravo, bravo," he cried from the tea-table. "Capital!"

Mrs Lucas blew him a kiss in acknowledgment of this compliment and smiled on her partner. "Amico!" she said. "It is nice to see you again. How goes it?"

"Va bene," said Georgie to show he could talk Italian too. Va very bene now that you've come back."

"Grazie! Now tell us all the news. We'll have a good gossip."

Georgie's face beamed with a "solemn gladness" at the work, like a drunkard's when brandy is mentioned.

"Where shall we begin?" he said. "Such a lot to tell you. I think we must begin with a great bit of news. Something really mysterious."

Lucia smiled inwardly. She felt that she knew for dead certain what the mysterious news was, and also that she knew far more about it than Georgie. This superiority she completely concealed. Nobody could have guessed it.

"Presto, presto!" she said. "You excite me."

"Yesterday morning I was in Rush's," said Georgie, "seeing about some Crême de menthe, which ought to have been sent the day before. Rush is very negligent sometimes – and I was just saying a sharp word about it, when suddenly I saw that Rush was not attending at all, but was looking at something behind my back, and so I looked round. Guess!"

"Don't be tantalising, amico," said she. "How