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Kenelm Chillingly — Volume 04 by Baron Edward Bulwer Lytton Lytton
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BOOK IV.



CHAPTER I.

IT is somewhat more than a year and a half since Kenelm Chillingly
left England, and the scene now is in London, during that earlier and
more sociable season which precedes the Easter holidays,--season in
which the charm of intellectual companionship is not yet withered away
in the heated atmosphere of crowded rooms,--season in which parties
are small, and conversation extends beyond the interchange of
commonplace with one's next neighbour at a dinner-table,--season in
which you have a fair chance of finding your warmest friends not
absorbed by the superior claims of their chilliest acquaintances.

There was what is called a /conversazione/ at the house of one of
those Whig noblemen who yet retain the graceful art of bringing
agreeable people together, and collecting round them the true
aristocracy, which combines letters and art and science with
hereditary rank and political distinction,--that art which was the
happy secret of the Lansdownes and Hollands of the last generation.
Lord Beaumanoir was himself a genial, well-read man, a good judge of
art, and a pleasant talker. He had a charming wife, devoted to him
and to her children, but with enough love of general approbation to
make herself as popular in the fashionable world as if she sought in
its gayeties a refuge from the dulness of domestic life.

Amongst the guests at the Beaumanoirs, this evening were two men,
seated apart in a small room, and conversing familiarly. The one